Simulations and games in economics education
It’s not the most realistic game, but I think my personal project Farmhand would fit here as well: https://www.farmhand.life/
It’s a GPL-licensed farming game where the value of crops and seeds fluctuate every in-game day. It’s inspired by the classic game Drug Wars.
I posted this having in mind some simulation games by Nicky Case (https://ncase.me/projects/) which combine insight and fun in a brilliant way. Specifically:
- The Evolution of Trust
- The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds
- We Become What We Behold
But those games only focus on social interactions. I wonder if there are similar ones that focus on economics. We learn much better through play, a game is worth a hundred papers.
Check out the list here! https://explorabl.es/economics/
The explorabl.es website is maintained by Nicky Case and has a whole bunch of explorable articles written by different people in different categories. Usually if something's written something interactive it'll be there!
Disclaimer: one of my articles is there too!
Those are great, thanks for sharing. Also, great website!
I work with simulation for medical training. When used properly, games and simulations are incredibly powerful at conveying relationships between choices. Since trainees 'invent' the solutions in a scenario, what they learn 'sticks' at a much deeper level. They walk away with powerful memories of their experiences.
However this only works when done with the supervision of a trained instructor (like a game master in DnD). Otherwise trainees will just stay in their comfort zones or they will just do focus on the bits they find fun or are already good at.
I can imagine something similar happening in economics education.
I used to be so amused playing https://playclassic.games/games/simulation-dos-games-online/... as a child, despite it being ridiculously challenging. You can't imagine how many patients I killed in that game learning how to perform an appendectomy using the trial-and-error methodology. ;~)
Whoa! Never saw that one before. Going to have to bring this to our team - we have been working on appendectomies as well. :)
I hope more people play Prosperous Universe. Using NPCs to simulate an economy can be done in theory but it is probably too impractical to have been implemented in actual video games. Yes, some research grade simulations use machine learning to simulate economic actors which is as good as it gets but when it comes to games it is better if every economic actor is another player as this avoids the NPC Vs human behavior mismatch. I mean, if you want to even remotely realistically model economic actors you would have to at least implement actor specific utility curves into your game and somehow ensure that these utility curves are coherent and non abusable across all goods and services in your simulated economy. It would be strange if a human were to be addicted to catnip, for instance.
Doesn't Eve Online already do this at scale?
It's pretty dated at this point (and I don't know of anything recent like it), but playing M.U.L.E. is a little education in microeconomics all by itself.
Ok, I see that Planet M.U.L.E. is a recent remake that may actually be alive and kicking, good deal!
That was a great couch competitive game. Trying to goad a player into bidding more than necessary for something they needed before they turned around and stuck you with it was good fun.
I recommend Sidereal Confluence. That game has taught me more about economics than anything else.
This game is on my radar, but as I understand it it really wants a lot of players at the table and my group is typically capped at 4.
Glad to hear it referenced though.
This article is extremely awkward, talking around the topic without giving much useful encyclopedic information or examples.
It appears to have been mostly written by Steven Gold in 2008 (Wikipedia user is named 'stevencgold'. He is a creator of economic simulation software. The article may have been written as PR for his business, while avoiding a direct display of conflict of interest.
I took an experimental economics class in college where the small lab fee was supposed to be paid out as prizes for doing well in the games we played during class. I never got a payout, but the class was pretty interesting regardless.
I did sort of "cheat" in one of the games, I recognized that the software market game was really a software monopoly game (this was circa 2000) and put the other providers out of business in the first round by paying people to be my customer.
Sounds like what startups do these days :)
Victoria 3 is a great game and has a rich economics system. Teaches supply chains, specialization, international trade, etc
Related: Sim Central Bank - https://benoitessiambre.com/macro.html
HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31785199
Comment was deleted :(
A couple of economics games I really liked were:
Capitalism Lab, which builds on the original Capitalism and Capitalism II by adding several more options (some through mods).
Wall $treet Raider, which you can learn a lot from about various big business dealings and economic trends. Different ways to use subsidiaries, holding companies, greenmail, liquidation, diversification, etc.
Yes! I have too many hours sunk into caplab.
Do you always hire a COO at some point to manage your retail? I get overwhelmed by the time I have more than one retail store per city.
I typically Create a Subsidiary and play directly through them so I don't have to worry about all the micro management.
Not one mention of how to incorporate socio-behavioral aspects of economic theory into the simulation, despite behavioral economic theory widely being recognized as the most realistic and true to life theoretical basis of economics.
It's wikipedia. You can contribute.
here's an obligatory reference to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_distribution_game
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