The game isn’t about angry birds, but impoverished Americans — and the economic realities they face. It’s about the realities of fiscal cliffs, sequester, or whatever name you chose for the realities faced by millions.

During an ice storm last month that kept U.S. Rep. David Price grounded at his home in his Durham, N.C., the 72-year-old Democratic legislator took 10 minutes out of his day to play Spent, an online game created by an unusual partnership in his district.

The online game Spent shows players the tough choices America’s poor face.

How did Representative Price do? Epic fail. “I ran out of money in nine days,” he says.

Fiscal Cliffs, Over-50 Edition

The fact that most people in this group can’t rely on Social Security and are too young to qualify for Medicare adds to their financial squeeze. (Poverty levels are highest for people 85 and older, in general, with soaring medical expenses taking up about one-fifth of their budgets.)

Nicholson, the game’s creator,  says it’s easy, though incorrect, for people who aren’t impoverished to think those in poverty are looking for handouts. “It takes a tremendous amount of energy just to keep at square one and not fall back,” she says.

The game’s 30-day time frame makes Spent a little less than 100 percent realistic. All the disaster-generating scenarios players encounter generally wouldn’t occur within a month. “But I’ve seen many happen within three months,” Nelson says. “You’ll find things start rippling out of control as financial disasters accumulate.”

Educating Congress

There’s now a petition to get members of Congress to play Spent; nearly 2,000 people have signed it. Price believes his fellow lawmakers should give the game a try.

“I think it would be a very good thing for members of Congress to play it, and legislators at the state level, too,” he says. “It’s a challenge to dramatize and get attention for these issues. Something like Spent really could help.”

This article from Forbes is available online

How about asking your lawmakers to try to survive on a little over $3 a day for a month… assuming you have tried.





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