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  Category: Articles » Finance » Article

How Roleplaying Improved my Money Acumen

By Kiera of Firan

We're going to start by rolling back the years - all the way back to when I was fourteen. Now, I'm sure there are many things you remember from when you were that age - crushes, school dances, hated teachers - but the one thing that never seemed to matter much back then was money. Like the majority of my classmates, I didn't have a bank account, or any methods of saving money beyond leaving it in a tin on my desk. Not that I wanted to save; I had a part-time, ill-paid job, and as far as I was concerned, once I'd earned it, I was free to spend it. So spend it I did, without any thought for saving up for expensive treats, or even to ensure some kind of stability in the future.

But during my fourteenth year, something happened to me; I was invited by a friend into the world of online text-based games. More specifically, I started playing FiranMUX. It was hard not to be sucked in right away: Firan is an intense, fully-realised Greco-Roman fantasy world, with believable gods (who occasionally make their presence felt), fascinating politics, and diverse factions locked in a power struggle - all against a background of a seemingly endless war. When one first logs in, it's easy to feel daunted by the enormous number of players, the quickly-moving plots, and the hundreds of well-written newsfiles - but within a few days, it becomes clear that these just add to the game's appeal, and help to enrich a truly fascinating theme.

So how does this fit in with finances? Well, one of Firan's unique selling points is its code, and in particular the richness of its economic system. In many online games, one simply writes 'Joe is wearing jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers' - whereas in Firan, there are weaver characters who can make cloth, tailors who can turn it into clothing, and shops in which the finished article can be sold. The astonishing attention to detail is quite unlike anything else on the Internet; one quickly finds oneself immersed in a world where money can often mean power.

Of course, for me, it all started with rather a rude awakening: my first character was a pauper, with hardly anything to her name. And, being a rather foolish fourteen-year-old, I allowed my real-life spendthrift ways to bleed online, wasting what little she had on a pair of new earrings. Now, one doesn't necessarily have to partake fully in the economic system on Firan - it's fine to just putter along in your corner, if you want (and there's a big, diverse enough playerbase to make that a rather easy course of action) - but it certainly makes for a more rewarding experience. There's a fairly rigid class system at the heart of the game, and although one may not advance in class too easily, one might manage to amass a huge fortune. Those in the criminal faction, for instance, are unlikely to hold a noble title - but money earned through theft and other dirty deeds can enable them to rise above their station and play an important (although generally behind-the-scenes) role in the politics of the day.

On a more mundane level, Firan's economic systems can help with business finances. Another early character of mine was a crafter. In my youthful foolishness I was less concerned with making decent money for her products than I might have been - and so, rather than work with a well-thought-out formula like many other players use, I would price her works with a schizophrenic abandon. Now, while this didn't affect my enjoyment of the game in any way, it did mean that my character was lagging behind in the financial stakes - and although it took some time to iron out the creases, I did learn my lesson, and ended up making a good few tidy profits.

Beyond that, Firan encourages saving for a rainy day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given my youth when I first started playing, I was attracted to younger characters; often, they would be on allowances from their family. It was through the game that I slowly recognised the importance of saving up their money so that someday I could put it to good use. Furthermore, budgets become important as one delves deeper into one's character's life; little things add up, and there's always rent to be paid, food to be bought - even childcare comes with a cost, so you'll think twice before having more kids. Because it's just a game, though, failure to pay rent isn't going to mean the end of the world: instead, it just opens more avenues for roleplay as you beg, borrow and steal from friends, family, and even complete strangers to find enough money to get by.

I hope that this hasn't given you the idea that Firan is all about money, though. On such a realistic game, of course the economy plays a big role. But there's so much more to Firan than earning, spending and saving; there are political coups and scandals, a gripping annual war season, an amazingly detailed religious background - all in all, it's an astonishing game, and one that hasn't lost its power to dazzle me, all these years later. And whether you'd rather be a powerful, high-stakes colossus with Trump-esque figures at your disposal, a middle-class tailor with just enough to get by, or a beggar who may sit around penniless but knows secret information beyond your wildest dreams, be sure to check it out at port: 5000. You won't regret it.

by Rianna @ Firan
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