Craig woman invents game to teach life lessons

A Craig woman who invented a game aimed at teaching children the basics of financial independence hopes to bring its lessons to "every school."

Renee Chason created the game, "Reality Check," in 1995 while living in Bowling Green, Ky. She first played the game with her four children as an exercise to illustrate the importance of sound finances.

"I didn't want my own children or their families to be financially dependent on other people," Chason said.

Chason said she grew up in a "well-off" family. Her father was the biggest contractor on the Western Slope.

As a girl, Chason did not have much responsibility. Her first car was a convertible, and her first job didn't come until she was 23. She married a contractor, like her father. The realities of money did not confront her because she wasn't in dire need of it.

When a financial downturn crushed contractors in the 1980s, Chason's fate also turned. She found herself and her family in financial turmoil. But Chason said she felt helpless because she had no skills with which to confront the situation.

It's a hard place to be in, Chason said.

"You don't want to be co-dependent," Chason said.

The memory of that period in her life led her to create a game to teach those skills. Chason wanted her children to be strong enough to handle everyday life situations.

In the game, children are dealt a hand, a life situation they must survive.

Chason's press release about the game says, "the game uses many situations from welfare, pregnancy, housing, losing a job, writing a resume, the military, trade schools and a college education."

Chason worked with her children that fall and through the Christmas season, a tough time for family finances.

During that time, Chason said her children kept ledgers and paid weekly bills. They got to see why sometimes the answer is "no." And the game illustrated what life would be like if one ignores financial issues or relies on fortune.

"It doesn't matter where you come from, disrespect of money always plays out the same," Chason said.

According to the press release, "I created game components used in the game that provided life situations that most families encounter. The children learned about the importance of having insurance, a good job, staying healthy, budgeting, and making wise choices with their money."

The game has evolved to become complex and detailed.

"It plays out like life situations," Chason said.

Chason said the game worked for her kids. Her oldest son is 23. He is unmarried. He is a district manager for a retail outlet in Arizona and "he's working on being financially set," Chason said.

Chason has copyrighted the game and currently provides authorized licenses to area organizations such as the RAD After School Program and Grand Futures to use her game.

Grand Futures Senior Director Kent Nielson said "Reality Check" was one of the kids favorite games. He used the game in two presentations to children in the RAD After School Program.

Nielson said the game helps youth understand alternatives in life, such as the difference between the jobs available to someone with a good education and the jobs available to dropouts.

"I was really impressed with the game," Nielson said.

According to her press release, Chason has "recently received copyright registrations from the U.S. Copyright Office and plans to continue game development for commercializing and authorizing licensed use of the game."

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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