Sep 18, 2020

NGPF Podcast: Jenny Nicholson of McKinney on creating award-winning NGPF Arcade Games

If you have ever enjoyed games in the NGPF Arcade, you experienced the creative genius of Jenny Nicholson and her amazing team at McKinney. The NGPF-McKinney partnership is now going on 3 years and the games created have delighted millions of high school students. So sit back and get the "inside scoop" on Jenny's creative process, what she hopes to achieve through these games and the engagement tactics she and the game designers use to "hook" the students. You might also learn about the new insurance game to be released in mid-October. Enjoy! 


  • 0:00~2:16 Introduction
  • 2:16~7:52 Jenny’s role at McKinney and the thought process behind the games
  • 7:52~13:15 On creating Payback
  • 13:15~15:36 The team behind the games
  • 15:36~19:49 Engagement tactics
  • 19:49~21:36 On creating Stax
  • 21:36~29:02 Creative process 
  • 29:02~32:09 Games as an educational tool
  • 32:09~33:37 Learning from student user testing
  • 33:37~36:29 Creating award-winning games
  • 36:29~39:12 Ideas for future games
  • 39:12~44:07 How the team stays connected during COVID
  • 44:07~46:40 Having the students play the games as a group
  • 46:40~47:37 Conclusion



  • “We never start with what we want them [the students] to know. Where we always start with is why would they care… What I say we always do is get kids interested enough to care in the beginning.”

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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