Spent is a harsh and often bleak simulation of a situation some people in America (and even the world at large) are facing every day. You've lost your job, you have a child, and you're down to your last thousand dollars... can you make it through thirty days? It might sound easy, but you'd be surprised at how hard finding a job can be, and how quickly all those little costs you don't ordinarily think about begin piling up. Think you wouldn't have to ask for help if you were in this situation?
Play is simple; click on the choice you want to make whenever the game presents you with a selection. The upper left corner of the screen shows how much money you have left, and the right side displays a calendar that shows your progress through the month. The bottom left side of the screen also has a series of icons you can click on if you get particularly desperate; you might never ordinarily consider it, but when you need groceries or your rent is raised without warning, there's a payday loan, the ability to donate plasma... or the meager funds in your child's piggy bank. Throughout the course of the game, you're also given the opportunity to ask a friend for help from time to time, which literally means posting to Facebook; you don't actually have to make the post, of course, since the game assumes you did and lets the choice count regardless, but could you actually go to a friend if this was reality? Would your pride let you say, "I can't make rent this month, and I need to borrow $200.", and more importantly... do you have anyone who would help?
Analysis: Spent is predictably a little heavy-handed in its message, something that's undoubtably going to hamper the immersion and overall, er, enjoyment for some players. The fact that it's a constant stream of financial hardships means it's a bit less of an accurate simulation and more of a string of choices with no real "right" or even very positive outcome. Having the game constantly bash you over the head with depressing facts about every little choice you make gets the point across, but I can't help but think the impact might have been so much stronger if it was more subtle. Spent managed to dredge up some not entirely pleasant childhood memories, but constantly having statistics blared at me meant I never really got lost in introspection the way I might otherwise have. Still, it did make me wonder how long I could reasonably have kept "living" in the game as loans mounted and accidents happened; reminds me a little of a particular episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days.
Obviously, for a lot of people Spent's scenario is hardly typical, and if you're single, or childless, or any other number of factors then $1000 might indeed be more than enough for a month. The fact remains, however, that many people aren't that lucky; add in a child, a college loan, and a few other key expenses and things start to pile up. The only real reason to replay is to try to finish the month again with a higher "score" (more cash in your pocket), and a sort of "endless mode" that let you try to survive as long as you could might have made the whole thing feel more like a game and less like an interactive public service announcement. Of course, you might be one of the lucky people who don't have to worry about this sort of thing, or think about the people who do. But maybe, once in a while, we should all choose to.