How RollerCoaster Tycoon Taught Me to Enjoy Budgeting

RollerCoaster Tycoon

Being born at the end of the eighties I was one of the very first children to grow up with a PC in my room. I literally cannot remember there being a time in my childhood that my room was not filled with floppy disks, CD-roms and oversized monitors. When I wasn’t writing awful code for some application I thought was useful but hardly ever was, I played video games on my classic beige PC.

Except for Real-time Strategy (RTS) games, by far my favourite two games were RollerCoaster Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon. For a 10-year-old to be able to build his own amusement park or railroad empire was simply an amazing experience! However, in contrast to most other RollerCoaster Tycoon players I knew, I didn’t rely on cheat codes to create an unlimited supply of cash.

As a result, I had to watch my income and spending carefully. Even though I just wanted to plunk down massive rollercoasters and tons of go-karts, the game forced me to watch my finances closely. Rather annoying in the beginning because I constantly went bankrupt, but after a while I actually enjoyed staring at the financial summary of my amusement park. And I became good at it too!

Financial Summary of RollerCoaster Tycoon

As you can see in the screenshot above, the financial summary provides a rather extensive monthly overview of money coming and going out. You can even take out a loan at a mindboggling 10% interest rate, which I often immediately dialled down all the way to zero. The tabs on top provide even more information, such as revenue growth and upcoming costs. For a seemingly simple game, that’s actually quite in-depth stuff.

Although it might seem insignificant now it didn’t take long before I started tracking my own income and expenses in a crappy Microsoft Excel spreadsheet I created myself. Sadly, that file is lost to time. I wish I could look up how long it took to save for my 5,000 Belgian frank (€125) portable CD-player! What did, however, stand the test of time was my budgeting experience. To this day I enjoy keeping track of my spending because it feels like playing RollerCoaster Tycoon in real life.

Oh, and one more thing RollerCoaster Tycoon taught me: people will literally pay anything for an umbrella when it starts raining! Anything.


    1. Awesome! You should fire it up sometime if you have an hour or two to kill! Or four, or six, or eight. You’ll be hooked again in no time! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by,

Join the conversation!