There's plenty of tools out there that help adults budget their income and savings–not only do such tools visualize data such that you become aware of your spending habits (good or bad), but act as crucial aids when building financial responsibility, especially in the field of financial education. As a result of micromanaging and paying close detail to your own habits, you also realize just how hard it is to stick to a budget / some other financial plan.

However, one aspect of financial education that most don't realize is that building financial responsibility and education does not start in a formal classroom; it begins since birth. Children pick up habits and patterns from their family the moment they are born; simply put, if a child's parents exhibit patterns (for example, frugalness), the child most likely will adopt such behaviors.

Because not all families are able to instill financial responsibility (sometimes due to uncontrollable circumstances), it's necessary for financial tools to be accessible and appealing for ALL–children are not the only one's who should learn responsible financial management. People from any age or background have financial struggles! In attempt to track spending, regular budget trackers are widely started on by users, yet are not often maintained as they can get tedious and often require daily logging. Nevertheless, by incorporating an enjoyable and fun game mechanic (taking care of a cute, virtual pet–your piggy bank!) to go along with money management, more people will retain to tracking their spending, thus instilling good habits while still having an enjoyable experience. As a result, virtual pet games such as Neopets and Tamagotchi were our biggest inspiration, as they teach young children the responsibility of managing and looking after others without any real-life repercussions.

People should be accountable of their own fiscal matters, not only for their own wellbeing, but for the sake of others as well. While money certainly is not the key to happiness, it has the power to ruin lives and fracture relationships, whether a lack or abuse of money. Poor budgeting can also lead to dangerous decisions on a much larger scale, such as getting involved with loans, gambling, or even drug dealing. Irresponsible spending is one of the main culprits of the ruinous side-effects when it comes to our society. Especially when consumerism is at an all time high, we wanted to show the importance of financial responsibility by creating a lighthearted game that teaches players valuable lessons in budgeting, while also connecting safe and thoughtful spending with an enjoyable player experience!

What it does

We tried to hit both an immersive and educational experience for our users when it comes to building positive spending habits. One of our main goals was creating a deeper, emotional connection between the player and their "wallet"–in this case, the "wallet" is the piggy bank pet! Through this connection, players understand that careless spending doesn't only affect you, but other people. In this case, poor spending results in your pig feeling sad, neglected and empty. On the other hand, smart saving and money management makes your pig feel grateful, appreciated for, and fulfilled! Much like real life, being financially responsible can improve and stabilize your relationships with others, and keeps you away from the trap of making poor and dangerous decisions. By being cognizant of how your money-spending habits can impact others, our game raises awareness on how crucial positive financial habits can be towards sustaining your quality of life and wellbeing of those around you. Spending money is not just a straightforward, transaction from your "piggy bank"–recklessly spending money possesses an array of other repercussions that may or may not endanger you, your relationships, and others' wellbeing in the future. A lot of problems can stem from financial issues, and the chatroom encourages communication in order to combat these issues.

How we built it

We used HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Java to implement the web app. We used Google Cloud's Cloud SQL database to store entries inputted into the game. We learned these languages and technologies in courses taken previously, namely CSCI 201(Principles of Software Development). That course also taught us the basics of using Google Cloud Platform to hold our databases, as well as introducing us to MySQL! The graphics were done using Adobe Creative Cloud; namely, Photoshop to draw using a tablet, and After Effects for animation! To make the pet as lively as possible, we used the Puppet Tools in After Effects to create joints in the 2D image and animate the piggy via keyframes. The project was then exported into a .mov file, which was eventually implemented into the web app as a .gif. To create the chatroom, we used SignalR on Microsoft Azure.

Challenges we ran into

Coming from different majors, as well as having one member from another school, we struggled to finalize an idea that we were all passionate about, was innovative, yet simple enough to be completed within a day. Time pressure, expectedly, played a huge factor when creating this project. As with most hackathons, a caffeinated yet sleep-deprived brain leads to all sorts of silly mistakes! Since we all had different skillsets, we all had to learn something new when working with unfamiliar tools. Animation also posed a problem, since our main goal required the piggy bank virtual pet to seem as "alive" as possible. We didn't have access to Adobe until a friend lent their account to us, so we were initially experimenting with other softwares (Live2D, Cartoon Animator, Synfig) to efficiently liven up our piggy pet without needing to draw multiple frames, which would have been extremely time consuming.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Overall, we’re most proud of actually having a finished product that is also fairly aesthetic! We were able to incorporate many different elements into our application, from learning how to budget to communicating with others through a chatroom. Through these past 20 hours, we’ve learned how to work together despite having extremely different skillsets, and make a product that has the potential to make the world a better place.

What we learned

To always account for daylights savings–having it go from 1:59am to 3am freaks you out until you realize what date it is... On a more serious note, we learned a lot from each other. As aforementioned, we all came from different disciplines (game design, computer science, and electrical engineering). As a result, we had tons to teach each other as well as learning new software and tools from the internet (like GCP, web development languages, Microsoft Azure, and Adobe Creative Cloud).

What's next for Biggy Piggy

Besides fixing bugs, considering edge cases, and updating the databases, we have a lot of different features in mind if we ever choose to continue the project. Biggy Piggy would work extremely well as a mobile app, which would make tracking spending much more accessible from your smartphone. We just didn't have the time to learn mobile development from the start, unfortunately. We also want to create more insightful algorithms to benefit users when it comes to understanding their spending habits, and how much of their income they should budget towards various aspects of their lives. Regarding interactivity, the app can implement other game-like features that really enhance the "virtual pet" aspect of the app, such as a friend system, points & leaderboard, or even different personalities and types of piggies you can have to personalize your account.

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