How Would You Fare in “Spent”?



We are taught in Proverbs 14:31 that “One who withholds what is due to the poor affronts the Creator; one who cares for the needy honors God.” Among the best ways for any of us to understand the challenges of the 46.2 million Americans living below the poverty line is to find a way to step into their shoes, while recognizing that simulations can only go so far. In the fall, I participated in one such effort, the Food Stamp Challenge, and was incredibly moved. But you don’t necessarily need to do what I did and try and survive for a week on just over $31 for food and beverages. You can play “Spent,” an online game in which you try to make it one month with only $1,000 as you encounter the hard situations too many Americans are facing today – unemployment, lack of affordable health insurance and housing, emergency medical expenses, and a general sense of unpredictability as you live paycheck to paycheck.

“Spent” is set up as an economic “Choose Your Own Adventure”; after each decision you make in the game, you are presented with the impact of that decision on your income and lifestyle and a relevant fact connecting your simulated experience to the all-too-real experience of millions of Americans. More than 1 million people have already played the game, which was launched almost a year ago by Urban Ministries of Durham in partnership with the McKinney ad agency.

I encourage you to try playing “Spent” and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment.

Photo courtesy of Spent.

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Ian Hainline

About Ian Hainline

Ian Hainline is a 2011-2012 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Chapel Hill, NC, and is a member of Judea Reform Congregation.

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