On Sept. 27, the Rowan Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE) hosted the Venture Valley Collegiate Cup. Rowan students from all majors and disciplines came together to compete against each other for $6,000 in prizes by playing Venture Valley, a free, online, entrepreneurship game geared towards teens and young adults and designed to teach them about business, financial literacy, and entrepreneurial skills.
There were $6,000 worth of prizes, funded by The Singleton Foundation, a family-based organization devoted to finding unique ways to address the lack of financial competency and entrepreneurship among current generations. Because of their passion for educating people about entrepreneurship, they helped fund the prizes awarded to students playing the game.
The 1st place winner won $2000, 2nd place won $1000, and 3rd place won $500. Forty random participants also had the chance at the rest of the prize pool, walking away with $50 dollars each if selected. These random prizes were awarded to encourage students who were uninterested in video games to play.
“There are no stipulations with the prize money; winners can use their prize money however they want, but we hope that they invest it or use it toward their education,” said Venture Valley producer, Nick Night.
To win first prize, a player had to build four different businesses, each business with a different goal: to sell the most items and make the most money. The player who achieved the most goals and accumulated the most revenue was crowned the winner. The winners of the game and the cash prizes have yet to be announced.
In the game, players are able to understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur by pioneering a business of their choosing from the ground up. They have to make all business and financial-related decisions to create a successful venture. Struggles that are consistent with the problems that business owners face such as unexpected repairs, competition, and robbery are obstacles that can appear in Venture Valley.
“[Venture Valley] allows players to learn the pros and cons behind business decisions, without having to take real-life risks,” said Night.
Night explains that this game is designed to be a fun and engaging way to teach youth and young adults about business, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.
“Most [college graduates] are in debt by the time they get their first job,” said Night. “The Singletons wanted to teach these students about business, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship through a familiar medium.”
While it appears to be a fun video game, the competition is much more intense, and the stakes are higher.
“This game isn’t like The Sims. Rather, imagine The Sims combined with a card battler game. Here there is competition, time-based matches, and players are given all the business decisions,” said Night.
Students were able to take advantage of the educational opportunity that the game provided, but they also were able to use it as a way to take a break from their busy lives and have some fun.
“RCIE decided to bring this event to Rowan to promote entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills through gameplay,” RCIE assistant director Jessica Vattima. “Anyone regardless of their major is welcome to play. Overall this game is a fun way to escape the stresses of class.”
Rowan’s CEO club was a co-sponsor of the event, hoping to provide students with some extra cash, education, and fun.
“This is CEO club’s first time sponsoring the Venture Valley Collegiate Cup. We’d thought it would be a cool way for students to learn about profitable ventures and chill in between classes, all while potentially making money for themselves,” said CEO club President Harrison Nastasi.
Sophomore Marketing and Entrepreneurship Major Shaila Saini said that the prize pool is what drew her interest in playing the game.
“I’m not a gamer. I have no games on my phone, not a single one,” said Saini.
Some students were in it to win big, but there were others who simply wanted to come out and play the game.
“I decided to play because the game seemed cool,” said Raaha Kumaresan, a junior biomedical engineering major. “I hope to use the skills I learn while playing this game to help me become financially literate and run successful business ventures in the future.”