WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A new video game has gotten its hooks into Brian Kealer, a 26-year-old San Francisco software engineer. He's not killing birds or using his vocabulary to impress his friends. No, Kealer is after real prizes, like the iPad2 he just scored. And he's playing with his bank account.
Getty ImagesAt least once every day, Kealer signs into SaveUp.com, a new financial website, and does some financial activity that wins him credits he can then use to play for big money prizes. To earn those credits, he can pay a credit card bill, deposit money into his savings account, or watch a sponsored video about personal finance.
To be clear, Kealer's not making any real dollar bets; he's just paying his bills. But by participating in SaveUp, he is playing into the financial services industry's latest attempts to attract and keep engaged consumers. Call it, inelegantly, "gamification." It involves the use of game-like attributes and mechanics -- contests, prizes, scorecards, badges, friendly competitions and the like -- to make the boring business of money more appealing to hard-to-snag consumers.
"It's a word that everybody hates, but it is descriptive of what's going on," says Jim Bruene of Netbanker, a banking technology consulting firm.
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