This video game is teaching college students entrepreneurship

BestColleges reports on a free multiplayer business-building mobile and PC game in which competition leads to the best entrepreneurship outcomes.

Evan Castillo
Posted 5/10/24

BestColleges reports on a free multiplayer business-building mobile and PC game in which competition leads to the best entrepreneurship outcomes.

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This video game is teaching college students entrepreneurship

BestColleges reports on a free multiplayer business-building mobile and PC game in which competition leads to the best entrepreneurship outcomes.

Posted

Oliver Stoner-German collects his prize as Venture Valley competition winner.

Courtesy of Venture Valley

A free mobile and PC game teaches students something classes can't: how to react in real time to a dynamically shifting market.

As BestColleges reports, Venture Valley, created by the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship, is a multiplayer business-building game where you compete and cooperate with friends and others online for the best entrepreneurship outcomes.

All players start with a dog-walking service, earn in-game money to build their businesses and assets, and play cards to give themselves an advantage or their opponent a disadvantage.

Organizers of the mobile game started running competitions to give college students a shot at thousands of dollars to see who could create the most profitable businesses against opponents.

Oliver Stoner-German is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying computer science and economics. He's also Venture Valley's first tournament winner.

Stoner-German found Venture Valley by walking around campus. He saw a Venture Valley competition flyer, started playing, and ended up winning, taking home the $2,500 prize. Afterward, he flew to Chicago for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization's 39th Annual Global Conference & Pitch Competition and won $10,000.

Stoner-German learned from the game's quick, dynamic business world to market his real-life venture at the University of Arizona, Shelp — Student Help. Shelp is a peer-to-peer marketplace where students can request help with tutoring, cleaning up their room, moving in, or anything they can think of. Stoner-German created Shelp after he realized there wasn't a place where students could ask for help from other students. He said he saw tons of Snapchat stories of people asking for help and offering cash in return.

"I was like, there has to be a more secure and better way to do that," he told BestColleges. With Shelp, students can scroll through requests on the job board, message the poster, and make money.

"Most of the time, I found that if I asked my friends for advice or help with something, they would be more knowledgeable than the university itself because they were actually on the ground and going through everything," Stoner-German said.

Shelp fully launched in February and has about 1,000 downloads. But it didn't start as a hit. Stoner-German had to pivot his marketing strategy when the app soft-launched at the end of last year — something he learned from Venture Valley.

He said the biggest lesson Venture Valley taught him was how to react to the market and quickly pivot his strategy. In Venture Valley, each player's in-game businesses affect the market and player revenue through changes in employee wages, business type, selling prices, and marketing.

The Shelp team realized no one was downloading their app because no one knew about it, so they quickly started hosting events, offering rewards programs, and letting people know what the app is and how to use it.

Venture Valley helped Stoner-German with his first business — and it inspires most of its other players to start thinking about starting their own.

Venture Valley found that almost 70% of college students in its recent survey were more interested in starting businesses after playing the game. "These survey results continue to validate the power of gamified learning and further affirm the effectiveness of the Venture Valley game in teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy," Singleton Foundation CEO Shelley Miles said in a press release. "The Venture Valley game will continue to empower this generation of students to navigate the complexities of the business world with confidence and strategic proficiencies."

The study also found that over 80% of college students thought the game was an effective way to teach business and entrepreneurship. And students aren't the only ones — professors are noticing, too.

"I was impressed by the description of the game since it enables students to apply fundamental business concepts in a fast-paced structure that the students find enjoyable and exciting," Tony Garcia, a finance department professor at Seton Hall University's Stillman School of Business, told BestColleges.

"I regard the game as a learning technique that is related to the case method since it requires the application of business concepts to a particular business situation." Garcia said he encouraged his students to participate in Venture Valley's collegiate cup and apply the concepts they learned from the app in class.

"Seeing how these puzzle pieces relate to each other helps the students understand a business as a complete picture rather than as a series of unrelated pieces," Garcia said.

According to Stoner-German, succeeding as an entrepreneur goes beyond what you learn in class — or in a video game. "You have to be the marketer, the coder, the finance person, and it's really fun and fulfilling," he told BestColleges.

"If you love the problem that you're solving and love your product and are really passionate about that, my biggest advice is to make sure that if you're going to pursue entrepreneurship, that you have to actually love the problem that you're solving and actually have to love the product."

This story was produced by BestColleges and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.