Fort Worth — For some students at Central High School, a computer game makes learning to manage personal finances less daunting and a little more fun.Students in Career and Technology Education business, finance and marketing classes have the option of using the Virtual Business - Personal Finance program to earn extra credit and compete against their peers.Teacher Marci Hargrove said she likes that the game starts everyone at the same level with the same opportunities.“The goal is to remain healthy, financially wise and gain net worth,” Hargrove said.The program gives each player $5,000 at the beginning with everyone living in the same virtual city.Students must get an entry-level job and decide where they will live and what sort of education they will get to improve their future career prospects.The game tracks net worth, personal health, credit scores and education.“It’s difficult to get started because you don’t have any money,” said junior Jillian Chase. “You have to work at some place like McDonald’s while trying to pay rent and taking steps to find a better job.”The key to getting a higher paying job is training and education. Senior Erica Castro received virtual training in food services, data entry, information technology management and earned a bachelor’s degree.“School is really expensive,” Erica said. “Everything’s so expensive. My car keeps breaking down.”Unfortunate events like cars breaking down, layoffs and apartment burglaries (did you get the renter’s insurance?) can drain virtual bank accounts.Teacher Terri Blank said, “It gives them a real life perspective on what’s going to happen in the future.”Players can’t sacrifice their health too much for the sake of wealth. They must buy groceries and schedule time for sleep, relaxation and socializing.Erica’s apartment was burglarized, so her sleep was suffering until she paid $1,500 to buy a new bed.The Virtual Business - Personal Finance program, created by Knowledge Matters, Inc., in partnership with H&R Block, is a competitive category for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).Out of 284 teams nationwide, two Central teams are in the top 10 and will attend the FBLA National Conference in Anaheim in June.Junior Thomas Patty’s team is currently ranked No. 5 while Nam Nguyen’s team is No. 7.Nam said he maximizes earning by living in a cheap apartment, walking to work, sleeping four hours a night and working three jobs while going to school. All the good paying jobs require education.“You have to plan what you’re going to do. If you go to college, you earn more in the future,” Nam said. “You start out at minimum wage, but you can go up to jobs making $50 to $60 an hour.”Players have three years in virtual time to make as much net worth as possible and can make investments in addition to earning wages, Thomas said.Junior Christian deLara said the game shows students that success requires time and hard work. He learned about income taxes through the program, and then saw that information on his real W-2 form.“A lot of what I’ve learned in the game comes to life as I become more independent,” Christian said.Just as in real life, participants can choose cheap or expensive options on what they drive or how they furnish their apartments.