In these troubling times of American fiscal cliffs and European market collapses, it is fitting, perhaps, to take a look back at the one PopCap game that, had more people been playing and learning, might possibly have saved us from this mess. Yes, PopCap’s Big Money, released in 2002, was not only a fairly solid little puzzle game, but also was quite the educational tool when it came to teaching us how to manage our money correctly. Had this game existed back in 1993, I might not have sold my then near-worthless Apple stock, and today would be retired on my own private island in the South Pacific, rather than writing on a videogame company blog. But, such is life. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what my reason is for writing this blog, but if it weren’t for the great mysteries of life, would life really be worth living? I submit it would not. Though lying on my own private beach, on a towel made of thousand dollar bills, while scantily clad local island girls delivered me a steady stream of Mai Tais and grapes actually doesn’t sound too bad either. Huh.
Well, anyway. Back to Big Money. It is, as were many of our games at the time, based on the idea of matching groups of three or more colored objects together on a board to make them disappear. The objects, in this case, are coins. The more coins you match together, the bigger the payoff and the higher your score. Each level, of course, gets a little bit tougher. The really cool part about Big Money — and the part that is related to real life — is that you have to learn, most of all, when *not* to match the coins. Sometimes, it’s better to let them pile up, rather than match, so that you can clear an even bigger pile as new coins emerge from the bottom of the screen. Sure you can match those three green coins right away, but, if you wait a few more seconds, you may be able to match them to six more green coins, thus garnering an even higher score. To spend, or to invest? This is what it’s all about, kids. Yeah, sure, go ahead and be fast and cavalier about it — match them as fast as you can — but the really big Big Money players know when to be patient, and they know, as Karl Marx would likely confirm, that the rich get richer, always.
And just in case you weren’t quite clear on what the game is really about, your game over screen will find you ranked with specific job titles, depending on how well you did. Fail to play wisely, and welcome to your new career as an assistant fry chief. Play smart and strategically, and congratulations, you are now at the apex of financial success — a videogame blogger. No wait. Sorry. That’s the level right after assistant fry chief. Man, this is one depressing blog post to write.
In any case, I highly recommend Big Money. Sure it’s a little dated looking 10 years down the line. But you know what else is dated looking? The dollar bill.
So go ahead and get it. You’ll have all sorts of match-3 action to entertain you, and you may, in the process, just learn how to have a better career than me.