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X-Treme Accounting

Feb 22nd 2008
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By Bill Kennedy - My teenage son wanted Guitar Hero III for Christmas. I was one of those dads who went to the store too late, so all I could give him was an IOU. Anyway, that's why we were in the stores every day in January. As the salesclerk was giving me the normal spiel about having no Guitar Hero in stock, I asked "What about X-Treme Accounting?"

My son (bright boy!) picked up on what I was doing and said, "Yeah, isn't Microsoft going to bundle it in with the new Home Office edition?" The guy just looked at us blankly, mumbled something and moved to the next customer.

Unfortunately, there is no Accounting Hero or X-Treme Accounting game for the XBox to get the next generation interested in accounting, but why not?

A few years ago, I had the honor of running the business game at Camp Enterprise, which is a three day camp created by Rotary to introduce senior high school students to business. It's a game that pits virtual companies against each other. Every quarter, each company gets to make decisions about how many products to make as well as how much to spend on R&D, marketing, etc. As the instructor I could influence the overall economy as well as send messages to the players which showed up as news bulletins on their reports.

My tactic was to begin by giving my budding entrepreneurs a taste of the good life. The economy grew and interest rates stayed low. This encouraged them to spend lavishly and expand their plants. Then I would start sending messages about trade deficits, interest rate hikes and an impending recession. Finally I would put the economy into a period of negative growth. When the businesspeople reviewed their reports you could feel their shock and horror. That would spark a good discussion about how business owners are personally affected by the broader economy.

The point of this story is that accounting is exciting when it is tied to the roller coaster of business. It's no longer a boring computational exercise when it gives you insight into what's going on with your business and helps you make good decisions. There is no reason why there couldn't be an exciting, engaging and (dare I say it?) educational accounting game.

By the way, if there really is an accounting game for the XBox, please leave me a comment. I just HAVE to get it for my son.


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