Game designer Avery alder took to Twitter to explain how credit cards are, using a much more sensitive and accessible framing than the magical metaphor we typically use, which is “money.”
The thread starts here:
You take a handful of gold coins because you really need the money. As long as you pay off this strange creature before the next full moon, nothing bad will come of it. Now obviously the fairy is trying to cheat on you. You know! But you are convinced that you can outsmart it.
You borrow what you need and return it to this magical place in the forest before the moon fills up. All is well. Better than good! The fairy is passionate about you, leaving you with bigger and bigger piles of gold to borrow. Other fairies begin to make offerings to you as you walk in the woods.
One month, life is particularly cruel to you. You cannot pay back the gold you borrowed. In the night of the full moon, the being appears. “Don’t worry, sweetie. I am merciful. Just give me what you have today, and pay the rest by the next moon.” He strokes his horrible necklace.
“I’m sorry,” you say. “I’ll make money. I’ll pay off the debt!” “Don’t worry at all, honey! All in due course. Things have a way of working out.” And then, before disappearing in a puff of smoke, whispered in his breath: “this is the first finger”.
The fairy keeps leaving you bigger piles of gold. The temptation grows stronger. Eventually you come to think of it as * your * gold. You borrow too much sometimes and can’t pay it back. “Two fingers,” he whispers soundlessly. Then three. This allows you to take more money.
One day you realize that no matter if you pay off your debt or not, you can’t stop borrowing more gold. Not only because you have built your life around it, but also because if you stop borrowing it will make the fairies very angry. Not just this one. All.
You look around the world. Your compatriots have all fallen under the influence of the fairies. Borrowed Fairy Gold runs your entire town. People only do business with others if they are known to be fairies. Every day more hands with missing fingers.
The savvy villager knows exactly what to do: regularly borrow small amounts of gold, to attract the attention and good graces of the fairies, and always pay it back in full before the next moon, knowing that it is not their gold. Let yourself be charmed and keep their fingers. Few of the villagers are informed.
Anyway, “the sinister temptations of the fairy mafia, who will love you very much if you play their game well” is the framework that helps me make my best credit decisions. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else as well.
This makes more sense than “You want pieces of paper whose only value derives from the collective belief of our society, so we’re going to use a spy metric derived from the NSA to determine your capitalist morality and help us decide how many inherently worthless non-physical pieces of paper we will loan you temporarily, which you will repay us with additional pieces of paper of no intrinsic value as punishment for not already having enough money. pieces of paper with no intrinsic value. yours. And when you break it down like that, you start to realize that fairy people are actually more real than money.
If you like it, check out some of the Alder role-playing games – I haven’t played them myself, but if they take a similar approach to his credit explainer, then they’re probably pretty cool.