Did You Know Anno 1800 Can Teach You Personal Finance?

Anno 1800 is a game that allows you to build a city and tend to the needs of its people by incorporating some finance education lessons. Not many games have this much “Real Life Skills” educational value.

Did You Know Anno 1800 Can Teach You Personal Finance?
Image: Ubisoft's Anno 1800.

Author's Note: This article was originally published on Medium on July 30th, 2019. It has been edited and republished here.

Anno 1800, like its predecessors, puts you in the role of an island owner. You are responsible for the residents, fulfilling their needs and making them happy.

You start with a generous amount of money to build things on the easy difficulty. While you may have money to spend, you are also responsible for your monthly balance. The people of your island will push back if you spend more money than what you earn.

The Newspaper

Aside from losing the game when you're out of money, the game also "shames" you when you're doing badly with your finances. The game's newspaper feature is where that shaming occurs. You can pay with Influence points  to put propaganda instead of the actual news. Influence points are hard to come by, and world leaders will respect you less for using them.

It's a hint from the game that there is a better way than covering up your misdeeds. And usually, bad news means poor management on your part.

Your people react to the news as we do. Their reactions are actual effects taking place between issues. One issue may lower the expenses of a particular factory for a while. Another may trigger higher (or lower) happiness requirements.

Managing Your Money

The game has a handful of venues for making more cash. The primary method of earning money is caring for your people's needs (not to confuse with happiness). More people come to live on your island when you meet more needs. Needs are things like food, drink, and clothing. Happiness is drinking schnapps at the closest pub.

In previous games, there were no happiness requirements to meet. The demands were all that mattered. This time around, needs and happiness work alone. For example, a farmer needs a marketplace and fish as two basic requirements. But the farmer can be happier if there's a pub near home and a steady supply of drinks for the pub.

Expenses And Their Impact

The game also makes you understand the intricacies of temporary expenses. For example, in one of the missions, you need to hire 500 workers to work on constructing a courthouse for the queen. The construction is a temporary situation. Once you finish building the courthouse, you will not need them anymore.

The smart player will build more homes, upgrade farmers to workers, and meet their needs. Only afterward will they start construction. This way, you still make more money, even after finishing construction. And it also allows you to advance closer to the next population level.

The other smart move (and faster) is to shut down factories for a bit. You will have to make sure you still meet your population's needs. You can buy supplies from other players or pick factories that don't meet people's needs.

When you don't prepare for this expense beforehand, you will still be able to start construction. When you do, you will reduce 500 workers from your vital workforce. The development of everything affected by the move will slow down to almost a halt. This workforce shortage can cause you to miss your people's needs, and they may even riot.

This game teaches teens and young adults to manage their money independently. You don't learn about managing your money in High School or many Colleges.

Advanced Finance Features

Aside from necessary finance management, there are also more advanced features. For example, you can sell a share of your island. That will make you instant money but at the risk of losing control of your island and the game.

Instant money is never a long-term solution. The game makes the point by ensuring certain shares are always a dangerous route.


Anno 1800 is an excellent way to educate people about personal finances. The one rule of personal finance — Spending less than what you owe — shines through the game mechanics.

If you take some time to learn the game mechanics and logic, you can use those ideas and techniques in real life. Each of us has money coming in and out during the month. If you learn to control those transactions, you could change your life for the better. What better way to learn than with a game with great visuals, gameplay, and achievements?

Oh, and there's also a story campaign. Just so you know.