Friday, July 22, 2011

Budget Crisis? Gamify It!

You may not always agree with government regulations. You probably also place the blame of the current state of the economy on present and past administrations. Well now is your chance to show how much better you can handle the nation’s finances in a new budgeting simulation game.

The game, called Budget Hero 2.0, shows players just how difficult it might be to carry out their grand policy objectives -- universal health care, extending the Bush tax cuts or ending foreign aid -- and still keep the government from either becoming irrelevant, or going broke.

Players start in the year 2021, based on Congressional Budget Office numbers showing what happens to the government's budget if there is no change in current policy. They then pick from some 100 policy cards as they try to earn "badges" that reflect their political leanings. In a quick demonstration of the game, two college students, one taking typical Republican positions and the other Democratic, showed just how difficult it will be to save the country. Both plans saw the government go broke -- reaching a point where there isn't enough money to cover mandatory programs.

“The game is a valuable teaching tool” says former Rep. Jane Harman, head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that developed the game with American Public Media. Players get insights into the "difficult choices involved in reducing the deficit and raising the debt limit," she said.

Simulation games allow players to encounter different problems that would emulate real world dilemmas. Players can then attempt to tackle these problems in a risk-free environment. These simulations are already used in both the corporate and educational levels. Arrow’s Max! supply chain simulation has players managing several supply chain customers. Deloitte’s ‘Virtual Team Challenge’ business simulation teaches high school business students about real world business concepts.

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