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A Game-Based Investment Platform for GenZ

Building transformative temperaments toward impact investing in GenZ
leveraging healthy investing habits.

Product Design | Finance | 2023

Project Goal

With insights derived from my research during the integrative studio 1 in Fall 2022, Explorean is the solution part of my thesis as an attempt to create, test and iterate on a viable design concept.

Soumil Panwar, Sushmita Narayana

Design Strategy, UX Design,
Usability Testing, 
Business Model Design

12 Weeks


Explorean is an initiative that merges discursive design thinking with human-centered approaches to envision a plausible future of retail investing. It intends to ignite a paradigm shift that revolutionizes the industry with the strategic placement of Explorean as a modality to engage GenZ early into the world of investing and build new motivators to turn plausible into possible.

Fantasy Gaming

The short-sighted focus on profitmaking among retail investors creates a disturbing dynamic, where capital flow from Wall St. empowers a handful corporations to exploit resources and neglect the wellbeing of our planet in their quest for financial gains...

This project is based on the insights I derived during my research project on
Exploring Emotional Barriers to Investing.


Investments are Elusive for GenZ

  • Investments feel scary, confusing and risky

  • Budgeting, savings and inflation are concepts that act as barriers to investing

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Starting to Investing is Challenging

  • Learning systems in school are ambiguous

  • Financial Planning is intimidating

  • Social media is misleading​


Investments Lack the Ability to Transform

  • Decisions are driven by only monetary gain

  • Retail investors ignore the societal implications of their investments

Futuristic Planet

GenZ, being the generation most anxious of the future, showed a drive to fight for climate action. We asked ourselves

How Might We

Help GenZ learn to invest and realize the power of their investments in bringing transformation within the society

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Competitors in this space are dominant closer to traditional banking platforms, while GenZ related to the offerings of platforms on the top right corner based on our interviews. Hence, we chose to build a highly gamified platform with a high focus on impact!

In-Game Guidance with an Explorean Guide

Intended to transform confidence around finance and cultivate future focussed investment temperaments, Explorean draws investment analogies into the gameplay.

Stock Market
Building a Portfolio
Performance of A Stock

Your City
City Building and Expansion
City Infrastructure

Goal of the game:

To manage the health of your investments in real-time by maximizing your population.

Explorean Leverages Game Design Principles to Breakdown Barriers to Entry

Providing Affordance by being enjoyable and not imposing

People can just start playing the city builder game and choose to invest when they are interested/ ready

Providing guidance to break down complexity

The Explorean guide is an in-game mentor who provides progressive information as guidance and learning in bits

Engaging users with quests and 3D graphics

In-game population demands nudge good investment behavior like diversification, regular investing, etc

Analogies help to visualize achievements and action

Parallels of city building within an investing platform simplify complex and risky financial experiences

Investing Through Embedded Gameplay

Each building can be built either by using game coins earned by completing challenges in the game and expanding the city or by investing real money in a listed stock in a related category.

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Building Without Investing
Building With Investing

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Essential public systems needed in the city

Eg: Power, sanitation, water purification, sewage, etc

A listing of public ETF's categorized based on where the money is invested as a bulk

Eg: Fidelity MSCI Energy Index ETF (FENY) would be represented as building a power source which might look like placing a windmill

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Commercial development in the city

Eg: Banks, grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc

A listing of public stocks categorized based on kind of businesses people see around them

Eg: Investing in Target Corp. (TGT) would be represented as placing a target building in the city to supply demand for a grocery store

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Technological advancements towards advancements

Eg: Road enhancement, medical research, infrastructure upgrades, etc 

A set of actions within the game to enable complexity and challenges to overcome

Eg: People need to spend game coins or invest to upgrade a windmill to a nuclear power plant. These would be a part of game challenges

Community-Based Learning and Guidance

Learning about finance and investing happens through friends, family and exploration. Explorean enables investors to connect with friends, family and social media influencers they trust. Investment strategies and portfolio details help in guiding investors and visualizing their portfolios motivate them!

Confidence is an Emotional Journey

We discovered that GenZ have a tendency to be excieted in the early days, make risky decisions and loose money. This behavior eventually drops confidence and people end up giving up early.

Explorean captures investors at this moment of excietment, helps them seek advice from friends family, find motivation within ideal and succesful portfolios and build trust in their financial decisions.

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Real-Time Monitoring of Investment Implications

Investors are given a real-time visual representation of the implications of their own investment decisions on the climate intended for them to build a climate focussed agency in their investment decisions. Each stock would have a sustainability rating corresponding to their ESG scores to help people invest in the climate crisis they want to solve!

Cultivating Transformative Investing Temperaments


Impact ratings are a representation of ESG based environmental impact of a corporation

This feature nudges investors to not only look at market performance of a stock based on their financial value but also their impact on the environment as a corporation

Visualizing future implications help investors relate to a plausible future and brings awareness of the agency they should have while investing their money

Healthy investing habits such as diversification are promoted keeping in mind the impact of any investment decision


Every dollar invested can move the needle closer to an enduring future...

Testing Explorean with GenZ in Phases

We took artifacts directly solving for critical hypotheses into the field and had conversations with GenZ. 

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Concept Testing
In order to validate product positioning between an investment and a learning app, we took two screens as a nudge to have conversation and hear feedback on our initial concept of an investing game.

Gameplay Testing
Games have to be fundamentally enjoyable. We translated the gameplay into a boardgame with a set of 12 designers to experience and identify improvements in game progression.

Usability Testing
Took the game prototype on Figma to a set of 8 GenZ to conduct usability reviews of the interaction and refined the interfaces in 3 phases

"I would love to learn only if it is not boring and maybe through financial advisors."

"The game-play with situation cards made me strategize ways I should invest"

"I would actually use Explorean to invest because I can visualize everything well"

Vision and Future Implications 

Leveraging strategic foresight, we created a desirable image of change and backcasted nuances that Explorean has to achieve in order to reach the vision where retail investments are the reason investors are able to fight the climate crisis.

Hover over various systems to explore their future implication!

"The game-play with situation cards made me strategize ways I should invest"

"The game-play with situation cards made me strategize ways I should invest"

"The game-play with situation cards made me strategize ways I should invest"

The Planet
Corporations actively take ownership of climate action

Intended Future
Corporations invest more capital towards fighting Climate Crisis

Financial Markets
Future Focussed Capital Allocation will Promote and Incentivize Corporate Sustainable Action

Intended Future
Wall Street will Support Smaller, More Impactful Businesses at Scale

Retail Investors
Redefined investment temperaments that balance profitability and sustainability

Intended Future
Re-Engineered Investor Temperaments

Business Plan and Operating Model 

Strategized in 2 Phases, Explorean would first acquire GenZ and then adapt to existing traditional investment platform interfaces for them to be relateable to GenZ.


Phase 1:
0-100,000 users

Value Prop
Explorean: A game-based investing platform for GenZ


Commisions through order flow, brokerage margins, business listing and audit charges, asset commision and licensing charges.


Phase 2:
100,000 users+

Value Prop
Explorean: An extension for customer acquisition among young investors

Game licensing and customization fees, royalties and commissions on trade


Games are a hit,
they got me Lit 🔥
Like to live Boujee,
thats the bit 🤑
But the Future is Sus,
should we discuss? 🧐

Key Learnings

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Agile Sprints + Design Thinking = Magic! 
Agile methodologies have the benefit of bringing outcomes faster and having tangible starting points. Leveraging design in these micro stages/ sprints can bring out the most value in a project while meeting hard deadlines and resource constraints.

Pivoting is the key to innovation!
Starting a design project with an end outcome in mind narrows down possibilities. Pivoting a concept into new markets and target users help making the solution robust and effective while improving on the weak elements in the concept.

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