Strange times attract strange responses. We’ve all read articles about making do, taking care and paying attention, but who’d have thought that the Department of the Treasury in the U.S. would respond to the credit crunch with a game? When the official seal of the Treasury looms up on a plain black screen, I’m all there.
Bad Credit Hotel is a stylish game in black and white that teaches people about debt and how to get out of it, or at least how to get their finances under control. The setting is an Art Deco hotel somewhat reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. For people who don’t like playing games, this one is pretty easy even for a non-gamer, so you can concentrate on the task at hand. The rules are simple and there’s a lot of guidance. Obviously the Treasury is keen for people to complete this game, not give up on it. To keep us at it they’ve loaded it with Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy. Unanswered questions, casual conversations, scary music, sound effects, and a rotary dial phone. The interface is a bit creaky but I like its style.
The combination of education with entertainment will be one of the big winners as the Internet gets more sophisticated. This was always the dream for television until education was overwhelmed by entertainment and lack of interactivity. This time I reckon the mix will hold, to the great benefit of us all.