In the wake of the Wall Street protests, we would expect to see a number of "persuasive games" that deal with the issue. This one takes an interesting approach: putting the player in the role of a struggling single parent who has lost their home and job and is down to the last of their savings.
Mechanically, the game is organized into 30 turns (one representing each day of the month) and the player's goal is to survive for all 30 days without running out of money. Ostensibly, the true "win condition" would be to survive for all 30 days and have enough money left over to make rent at the beginning of the next month. Each day the player is presented with an event randomly chosen from a pool (in my designer's eye, I can almost see the paper prototype with someone flipping over an index card from a shuffled stack), most of which offer the player a choice. The player has one primary resource, money, and most events affect how much you have.
The game is, as in real life, stacked against you. Most choices either drain your cash reserves, or make you feel really guilty about not doing so (e.g. refusing to buy your kid a birthday present, or driving away from an accident you caused because you can't afford the insurance bump). Rent is unfairly high, bills regularly come due that force you to decide which ones to pay and what you can afford to fall behind on, and you often find situations where you must choose between paying a little or paying a lot. While it is possible to "win" you can only do so by putting up with some pretty difficult situations - which is the whole point of the game. Some choices offer you a way out by asking a friend for help - but of course you're then expected to actually pimp the game on your Facebook newsfeed for the privilege.
To the extent that this game is speech, its message is basically "you think you're such a hot shot because you're doing fine in this economy? Think you'd last five minutes if you weren't born into privileged circumstances? Then prove it." The point is made bluntly, but it is made.
Production values actually fit the game quite well. The graphics, sound and entire interface are pretty minimal, which fits the minimal resources you are given in the game. Given that the developer appears to be an advertising firm and not a game developer, a strong and effective aesthetic should not be surprising. The fact that it's actually a game is.
To the extent that the game can be attacked, I think it has two weaknesses.
Mechanically, one issue is that a lot of choices the player makes have no gameplay consequence. That hit-and-run accident doesn't put you in jail, refusing to buy supplies to get your kid placed in that gifted program doesn't hurt you, taking a payday loan doesn't require the money to be paid back, and so on. Since the duration of the game is a month, short-term tradeoffs actually appear to work in your favor, and the game does not reflect the long-term effects even at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the "speech" itself feels a bit unrealistic at times, undermining the game's core message. So many of the events in the game feel unfair to the player. I have to pay $500 for an auto accident (even though I have insurance)? I have to choose between paying my cell phone or electric bill (where's my option to dump the cell phone and get a land line)? I can live as far away from work as I want to live cheaper (not only does it seem unrealistic that all rent is keyed to the one place I happen to work, but the extra time spent commuting isn't accounted for in the mechanics)? I can buy as much or as little food at the grocery store as I want (with no gameplay effects either way, making it a false choice)? My only two choices for lunch are a $1 burger and a $6 salad (seriously, that's it)? Even the core premise of the game - lost my job, home and all savings, down to the last $1000 - asks the player to assume that this all happened through no poor choices of their own. I'm supposed to feel sorry for someone in a bad situation, but maybe my sympathy is reduced a bit if they got there through unsustainably living beyond their means. In short, the game asks me as a player to take a lot on faith.
Still, it's an interesting experiment.
Update: Spent is a 2012 Games for Change Award nominee in the Most Significant Impact categoyr