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Wongamania, The Board Game That Teaches You Economics And Personal Finance

Is this game the Scrabble of Personal Finance?

Board Games are a favourite pastime that people can turn to when they have some leisure time. It could be a gathering at a friend’s home, a weekend stay over at a chalet, or even during your In-Camp-Training.

Beneath the fun and social exchanges that we derive out from playing these games, one aspect frequently missed out by casual players are the original intentions that the creator of a board game have in mind when designing the game play.

For example, Monopoly was originally designed to help illustrate the economic consequences of David Ricardo’s Law of Rent, and the outcome that may occur if a single landlord “monopolise” real estate.

Learning The Complex World Of Economics

A locally designed game, Wongamania (Wonga is a slang term to describe money in some parts of Britain), aims to help the average person in Singapore demystify the big and complex economic world that we live in today. At the same time, it hopes to impress upon players some simple concepts relating to their own personal finance management.

Winning a round in Wongamania is simple. A player has to buy 3 Trust Funds. Since there are more than enough Trust Funds to go around for everyone, you do not need to be competing with the other players to buy them, unlike Monopoly, where everyone rushes to purchase real estate at the start of the game.

Trust Funds:

As defined by Investopedia, Trust Funds comprise of a variety of assets that are intended to provide benefits to an individual or organization. These funds are kept secured and hedged against volatility in market cycle.

Wongamania got that right. When it comes to personal finance, it isn’t just about how well your assets are currently doing in the market. Financial independence should hold true regardless of whether an economy is in a bull or bear market. Just because a person is doing well when the market is looking great doesn’t necessarily mean that the person have become financially independent. We are sure all of us know of people around us that were doing well financially at the peak of the economy, only to see everything come crashing down once recession kicks in.

The goal of Wongamania isn’t just to acquire lots of different assets; it is to acquire assets (in the form of trust funds) that are secured in both good and bad times.

Having Money & Opportunities:

A typical finance related board game would usually involve the use of traditional money (e.g. stacks of Monopoly notes) being used to purchase assets (e.g. the land deeds of Monopoly). Strangely enough, Wongamania doesn’t include the use of any form of “traditional money.”

Rather, what it uses are “unseen opportunities” as money instead. Players will need to balance between having too much “money” and too little “opportunities” to invest their money in. Here is an Illustration of how it works.

1. Player have 5 Wonga (currency used in the game) and 0 Opportunity 

2. Player converts 1 of the Wonga into an Opportunity by flipping over the card.

 3. Player now has 4 Wonga and 1 Opportunity. Player doesn’t like the Opportunity, and chooses not to invest in it.

 4. Player flips another Wonga and converts it into an Opportunity. Player now has 3 Wonga and 2 Opportunities.

5. Player likes the 2nd Opportunity and wants to invest in it. However, the opportunity costs 4 Wonga. Since the player only has 3 Wonga left, he is still unable to invest in it.

We were initially confused about this concept but it started making sense as we continued playing. The intention of the game designer was to communicate a real example of what people will face when it comes to their own investing journey.

In life, we might find ourselves in situations where we have many good investment opportunities available to us, but with insufficient funds to partake in them. Alternatively, we might also find ourselves with excess funds at hand, but with no good viable opportunities to invest in.

Assets that become toxic depending on the economy:

Most board games have assets that provide a fixed return on investment. In Wongamania, assets provide different returns depending on the economic cycle. What could be your, “best assets”, in a particular round may just end up sending you into bankruptcy the round after.

For example, you could find yourself holding on to a property asset that not only gives you zero returns for a particular round, but also forces you to pay extra each round just so you can hold on to the asset. If you do not have enough money, you will be forced to liquidate it at a low price.

Sounds familiar?

Cycle Of The Economy:

The different economic cycle in Wongamania changes the way people play throughout the course of the game. If the economy is in a Growth phase, assets such as stocks become attractive to acquire. In a Recession phase, stocks become hot potato that no one would want to touch.

Global Event & Incident Cards:

You cannot be planning your personal finance without a care about what is happening out there in the world. Global events and personal circumstances can and will force you to adjust your well thought out plans.

In Wongamania, the same holds true. Global event and personal incident cards will affect the game play of both yourself and the other players around you.

The Scrabble Of Personal Finance

The way we see it, Wongamania is to personal finance what Scrabble is to spelling. It’s a game that you play to have fun while sabotaging other players. At the same time, you pick up simple but useful finance knowledge that would help you appreciate just how dynamic the world of personal finance could be.

Together with DollarsAndSense, the company behind Wongamania, Capital Gains Studio, will be organizing the first Wongamania Social Series event next month. The event will be held on the 25th of October (Tuesday) from 6.30pm – 9.30pm.

There will be a registration fee of $15 per participant which includes refreshments and drinks. If you sign up before 30 Sep, there is an early bird promo fee of $5 per participant. You do not need to know how to play the game before joining because it will be taught during the event itself with practice sessions included.
You may sign up directly for the challenge here


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