I think someone really needs to do this. It could be a revolution on two levels. First, it could actually interest more people into saving money. Second, it would finally put a game with a huge real world impact out there and “people” couldn’t just say that games are for kids or are just for entertainment anymore.
I would start with two different games. The first would be kid focused. Build an MMO with puzzles and educational things, while also including an adventurous “hack and slash” type game. Some times you would go out and fight monsters and save the world, and some times you’d stay in and play mini-games for various reasons. And not just the Tetris-style mini-games from Puzzle Pirates, but steal games from Brain Age, games that might actually help with learning while also still being (for the most part) fun. The money invested into the game, either by monthly fee or by a microtransactions model (one where you buy items, game cash or points for real dollars), goes into a trust fund style account for the child. The trust would be set up so that nothing can be spent until the kid gets out of High School, and that drafts from the trust after that would have to be approved, mostly to ensure the money is going to a college or other educational program, and perhaps have a monthly stipend paid out to a checking account for the kid (college expenses and what not). When the kid turns 25, the remainder of the trust is turned over to the kid. (And of course, if something happened to the child, the trust would be released to the family.)
The second game would be aimed at adults. And I don’t mean that in a “blood and boobs” sort of way, but just that the game would need to appeal to more than just kids. Only this time, instead of money invested going into a trust fund for college, the money goes into a retirement 401k or some other similar plan, the kind that begins payouts at 65. Think of it as Social Security by way of an MMO.
If you really wanted to get crazy, you could allow people to set up any kind of saving fund they wanted and pay into it through game play. Say you want to buy a new car and you need a minimum of a $3,000 down payment. Set up a savings goal with the bank of $3,000, then direct your gaming account to desposit all funds into that savings goal. Then a few months (or whatever) later while you are playing… “DING! Car Down Payment Achieved!” What? Oh! Sweet!! You could even set up multiple goals and split your payments into different funds, you want 30% to go into the new car fun, 30% to go into the vacation fund, 20% to go into the big screen TV fund, 10% to go into the house down payment fund and 10% into the retirement fund.
Of course, you’d need some way to fund the game… which could be done by advertisement partnerships and things like that, or even just shaving a tiny percentage off money deposited through the game as a service charge. But seriously, I think this idea has merit. I wonder what it would take to pull something like this off… hmm… where did I put those example business proposals? …