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A revamp of concepts presented in the earlier Hobson's Choice, this browser game about homelessness and the working poor opens with the following establishing text: "Your savings are gone. You've lost your house, you've lost your job, and you're down to your last $1000. Can you make it through the month?" Players make tough choices between various hard decisions relying on limited resources: if you can't afford to pay both, do you pay the gas or electricity bill first? How long can you get away with driving to work in an unregistered vehicle, and what happens to your warehouse job when it gets impounded? Carrots or hot dogs at the grocery? Can you afford to send your child on the school field trip? Can you afford to take time off to go to a relative's out-of-state funeral? Send your child to a birthday party with no present, or don't let them go at all? If you can't afford the landlord's additional fee upon their discovering your beloved family pet, do you have any choice but to take it to the shelter to be put down? Some choices offer three options, often including one that brings the play session out-of-game and promotes the game through the player's social network; many choices are binary and of course there are situations where the player has only one non-game-losing option. Similarly, there are no-win cases where the player is forced to choose the option that will push them past zero dollars and end the game prematurely.

The goal of the game is just to make it to the end of the month without reaching a zero financial balance, though even succeeding in that the game makes sure to remind you of urgent unfinished business (unpaid phone bill, desperate dental surgery required, renewal of drivers' registration) that would need to be addressed imminently were the game to continue. Informative blurbs drawing on real and current statistics accompany various choices the player makes, hammering home just how many people's lives this simulation reflects and what the long-term consequences of short-term game-winning strategies would be.


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The A.V. Club Mar 14, 2011 B 75


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Related Web Sites

  • Spent (official website)
  • Play Spent (Free, legal play of the game through a Flash-equipped web browser.)
Pseudo_Intellectual (63606) added Spent (Browser) on Feb 17, 2011