A Great Digital Tool for Building Empathy

I am sharing a game that builds student empathy around one subject.

Photo of Tom Mullaney
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Spent is a game from Urban Ministries of Durham that takes players through a month living in poverty. The game is challenging and engaging. I have had success with students playing it in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! What's one take away or insight to leave people with?

What lessons about building empathy can we learn from Spent?


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Photo of Erin Quinn

I think the richness of a game like would come from the discussions you could have as a class. Wouldn't it be interesting to play it as a class? And have the class come to a consensus before they made a decision at each step? It would open up so much conversation and debate, building even more empathy along the way, I'd bet.

Photo of Tom Mullaney

Great idea, Erin! I think the first round as a whole class activity is a great idea!

Photo of Paula Marra

Wow Tom! What a great share! I did survive for a month but SPENT got me thinking about many things that I usually don't. I also thought about Danny Scuderi Survival Week when playing. Spent - will share at UNIS.

Photo of Tom Mullaney

Paula, I'm so happy you find it useful! Enjoy!

Photo of Lisa Yokana

What a great resource for building empathy! I ran out of money on day 7... I just shared it with our public policy teachers! For me, it was interesting because I thought I chose "good, responsible" answers, but then realized that if I was in this situation and was going to run out of money to feed my children, of course my answers would have to change. I love that it puts you in the shoes of someone in a different situation!
Thanks for sharing!

Photo of Tom Mullaney

You're welcome, Lisa! Spent is a wonderful hidden gem!

Photo of Emma Scripps

Hey Tom -

Thanks for sharing! What do you like about this game! Synthesize a little to help us better understand what works about it. Might be informative for the solutions teachers end up building out next.

- E

Photo of Tom Mullaney

Thank you for the question, Emma. Here's what makes Spent a great experience:

-Very challenging but it feels like it's not impossible
-Super real and relevant - the problems that arise are things any person can relate to
-Plenty of content to learn - the content is seamless throughout the game and fits in perfectly
-Sleek, modern design. The game is beautiful to look at but not flashy