Recently, we learned about the online “game” Spent that tests your ability to make it through a month on $1,000. You are a parent confronted with real-world choices about where to live, what to buy and how to save money. It’s daunting. Try it. The tough options you encounter in the game are similar to the difficult decisions that many of our project interviewees confront on a daily basis.
The ad agency McKinney created Spent for Urban Ministries of Durham. The nonprofit was looking for new ways to build awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness. Since last February, the online game has been played over one million times, and now McKinney has issued a challenge to the U.S. Congress through an online petition to play the game.
Over 50 and Out of Work and the Urban Ministries of Durham are both striving to help Americans who are suffering.
“We hope that somehow the game can play a role in the conversation about funding for jobs and solving hunger,” said Patrice Nelson, executive director of the nonprofit. She said the game has received an overwhelmingly positive response and that donations to the charity have increased since the game went live.
The Urban Ministries of Durham serves about 6,000 people, and most of them are not homeless. They have lost their jobs. They are trying to hang onto their homes. They have drawn money out of their IRAs, borrowed on their credit cards and exhausted their savings. They have cutback until they can’t reduce their expenses any further, and they have used up their cushions.
“When is this going to let up?” Nelson asked.