How I learnt more about financial literacy through CPF Board’s virtual escape game

The qualifier rounds for ‘Catching Insomnia’ will be held till the end of August.

Kirby Tan

Will redo the same personality test until I get the results I want.

Published: 23 June 2023, 1:32 PM

As adulthood looms over me, financial literacy is increasingly becoming an important topic. Yet, I evade it every time it comes up in conversation. Given how often I elude it, Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB)’s decision to educate youths about it through a virtual escape room struck me as ironic. 

To find out more about it, my colleagues and I signed up for a session on May 27. 

Titled Catching Insomnia, this 90-minute virtual escape room weaves key concepts about CPF and financial literacy into its storyline and challenges. In this game, participants will need to form teams of four to eight players and take on the role of “Dreamcatchers” to, as the title suggests, catch Insomnia – the antagonist. 

This mission was given by Insomnia’s twin brother, Lord Evernight, after she had stolen his Awakening ring. While this may sound like a petty argument between siblings, it isn’t. After all, her twin brother was the ruler of the Kingdom of Darkness, and she was wreaking havoc on his land. 

Given the premise, setting and trailer, I assumed the entire game would be bleak and dull. But because it was set in – an interactive, video-calling platform that utilises old-school game aesthetics – the gameplay experience felt vibrant and more colourful than expected. 

Using’s functions, my teammates and I customised our characters and “walked around” the Kingdom of Darkness. As we went through the five chambers, we immersed ourselves into each space and observed how they were all intricately designed to meld both the plot and the games together.


There were many features we could customise while creating our digital avatars. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/EDWIN CHAN


Initially, I had some reservations about the game. The plot seemed random and the topics covered sounded dry. But the more I played the game, the more my perceptions started to change.

Since the game was introduced by CPFB, I thought the challenges would involve a lot of calculations and quizzes about CPF, but that was not the case. While the challenges did include facts about CPF and financial literacy concepts, they were mostly subtle and sprinkled in. With a mix of memory, logic and visualisation games, these facts were blended almost seamlessly into the game’s storyline.

Like most escape rooms, this one proved to be challenging. At one point, my teammate started stress eating cups of mango pudding. That said, the games were not impossible to solve. With some paper, pen and a lot of teamwork, they can be beaten in time.


Besides these challenges, there is also a virtual exhibition hall known as The Paradise where players can view and download useful resources from other agencies that are related to the theme and learnings of the game. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHONG WEN LYN


Despite my doubts, the escape room was quite enjoyable. It was interactive, engaging and educational. While I can’t say I have learnt everything about CPF and financial literacy, I can say that I picked up some things along the way – such as the 50-30-20 rule, a strategy that prioritises one’s needs in crucial situations. 

Although I’m not still entirely sure why motifs of dreams and sleep disorders were incorporated into a game about CPF and financial literacy, I do have my guesses. For instance, our role as Dreamcatchers could refer to us chasing our financial dreams, while Insomnia could symbolise the sleep we’ve lost as our financial troubles grow. 

As such, the idea behind Catching Insomnia may be that the more knowledge we have about CPF and financial literacy, the more likely we are to catch our “real-life insomnia”. Regardless, these motifs didn’t seem to affect the plot so they could just be a result of CPFB’s creative liberties. 

Overall, CPFB’s Catching Insomnia may be a testament to how the gamification of more “adult” topics like financial matters can be effective. While these subjects are no doubt important, most secondary and tertiary students are disinterested in learning more about them. 

Changing their attitudes about the topics themselves can be difficult, if not impossible. But employing tactics, such as virtual escape rooms, makes learning more fun and may even encourage them to listen and grow. 

Given the potential benefits, CPFB’s Catching Insomnia might just be a step in the right direction in motivating youths to take charge of their own lives (and money).


Despite the 90-minute time limit, we took 103 minutes to complete the game. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/MAISY PHUA


Participants can stand a chance to win escape game vouchers by The Escape Artist worth up to $56, and  pre-loaded NETS Prepaid cards that were specially designed by Republic Polytechnic students. 

For more information on the virtual escape room and how you can register for a session, please visit the CPF website

To find out more about financial literacy concepts, check out Youthopia’s financial literacy resources.

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