4 [Financial] Lessons From Rollercoaster Tycoon

Do you remember Rollercoaster Tycoon? Here are 4 financial lessons from Rollercoaster Tycoon I learned as a kid.

I am a 90s kid, meaning that we bought our first PC when I was in middle school. I remember that we had one PC for the entire family, can you imagine? We also had the kind of internet where you had to make a decision: or you browse the internet, or you call with your landline phone. When I was secretly browsing the internet when my mom was on the phone, she would notice – the phone would go dead.

I loved playing all different kind of games, I had a period of time where Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon where my absolute ride or die (pun intended). I was the center for my universe for a good few years. For a 9-year-old to build your own zoo or amusement park was an amazing experience! Especially the part where you could buy lions and then remove the gates around them, or you could make your rollercoaster go so fast it would launch into space – casualties were part of the job.

Back to the point.

The goal of Rollercoaster Tycoon is to build and manage your own theme park. Like in many games, everything is possible. You could design the most ridiculous coasters entirely yourself, you hire entertainers in costumes, or you could simply put down a Ferris wheel.

Rollercoaster Tycoon was a lot to manage for a 9-year-old. My success entirely depended on what the park guests were thinking about my park, how much benches I put next to the extreme attractions (so people would not throw up on the floor), and how much security I had walking around.

As you see, I’ve learned a lot of things about Rollercoaster Tycoon. Let’s dive into the financial lessons I learned from Rollercoaster Tycoon.

4 Financial Lessons From Rollercoaster Tycoon

Lesson #1: Budgeting

What I did with Rollercoaster Tycoon, as occasionally with other games like the Sims, was that I didn’t want to use any cheat codes. Sometimes it’s fun to build the most ridiculous rides and to spend thousands of dollars buying extra land, but most of the times I would play the ‘real’ game.

No cheat codes resulted in me watching my income and spending very carefully. I would evaluate what would cost me the most money in a month. Looking at my financial summary, trying to figure out where I would be able to save money. Often this resulted in me trying to pay off loans as soon as possible. In the beginning, I would be rather annoyed because I went bankrupt all the time. Good thing it’s not a real-life game.

Rollercoaster Tycoon financial lessons

Over time I got better at the budgeting part, I knew how to read the financial summary and what costs to pay attention to in order to not go bankrupt as often.

Some parks would even do crazy well, and I would even save for an emergency fund, wooo!

Those budgeting skills still come in handy and help me a lot. When I was in university and had to watch my money very carefully, I would also keep track of where my money was going. I rather spent my money on a weekend Barcelona than overpaying for my shoes.

[Related Read: Paying Yourself First – A Powerful Hack to Financial Freedom]

Lesson #2: Patience

As a kid, patience was not my strong suit. What I did have, was a sense of ‘I want this so I’m going to do this’. When I decided not to start with any cheat codes, I stuck to it. It took much longer than I anticipated, but it would work out in the end. Sometimes. After going bankrupt over 30 times.

The point is, I learned to be patient and not to instantly get gratification all the time. I would take the responsibility as a 9-year-old would. I would sit there, thinking about how I can pay off my loan as fast as possible.

This still serves me. While my patience is not always what I want it to be, I’m trying to optimize my path to financial freedom. The things that Rollercoaster Tycoon can teach you.

[Related Read: Feeling Impatient On The Road To Financial Independence]

Lesson #3: Calculated Risk

Park visitors were seeking thrills, but if you gave them too much thrill they will throw up. And you have to clean it up. Orrr you would build a ride and forgot to test-ride it – oops. If your rollercoaster was not structured correctly, it could be the case that your visitors wouldn’t survive. Morbid, I know. After that, your park popularity would plunge dramatically and you would go bankrupt without a doubt.

What I learned from that is that it’s good to take risks, but take the calculated risks. Test your rides, test the waters before you decide to dive in. Don’t go all in on things that you know nothing about. Take the risks in the areas where you know exactly what risk you’re taking and how that might benefit you.

After all, what’s life without a little risk?

[Related Read: Spend Bill Gates’ Money: Can You Do It?]

Lesson #4: Umbrellas

Over time, I found shortcuts to maximizing my earning when playing Rollercoaster Tycoon. Like when it started raining, I would raise my price for umbrellas enormously. People would pay anything for an umbrella when it starts raining. Anything. Simple supply and demand.

For a simple game, that’s good stuff! Since I’ve played Rollercoaster Tycoon, I’ve become much better with my finances. It’s fun to think about how I already loved looking at the numbers when I started to play Rollercoaster Tycoon. It sure was a good start. I enjoyed keeping track of my expenses, patiently waiting to get more money, and take calculated risks toward expanding the park.

Did you play Rollercoaster Tycoon? What are your favorite memories surrounding them?

6 thoughts on “4 [Financial] Lessons From Rollercoaster Tycoon”

  1. I learned a lot about living in a capitalist society from playing the game Eve Online. Before that I found it very difficult charging anything for my own time. Eve taught me that charging less than the going rate for work you do is actually damaging to everyone else trying to get by doing the same thing.

    It taught me a whole host of other things about living in a capitalist world – how the markets work, trading etc.

    I stopped playing it in the end because I realised there were so many similarities between what I was doing in the game, and what I should be doing in the real world to build a life, that I should just treat life as my game instead. 😉

    • Hi Sam, thanks for your thoughtful comment. ‘I should just treat life as my game instead’ – that one great way to look at things! It’s all about trial and error, taking some risks and learning how the world is working

    • Hi B, definitely the best game EVER! It’s funny to see how as a kid you’re already having your interests and preferences develop. We are the same breed, that’s why I’m so happy connecting!


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