Sunday, April 18, 2010

Microsoft Makes a Budget Game for the White House?

Not sure why, but this post about the Obama administration asking for Microsoft to help them develop a computer game about managing the United States federal budget and deficit via Mashable struck me as weird:
Each player will be tasked with balancing the federal budget. The game obviously won’t be a completely realistic simulation of that task — if it was, no one would want to play — but it might give some citizens a sense of how difficult the task is.

The commission likely hopes that players will become more sympathetic to the difficult and controversial decisions it will have to make after the game demonstrates that there are no ideal options. Those decisions could include higher taxes and cuts to medicare, social security and other programs.

Questions: Would anyone actually want to play this game? What is the reward or the "pay-off" if you balance the budget? What would a player consider to be fun about such a game? Also, why is Microsoft the one being asked to make this game? (All I can imagine is a giant Excel file with simulation formulas that would make my eyes bleed.) There are lots of other game makers out there and I would guess they are cheaper/faster. Finally, who is this being "sold" to? A particular market segment, such as graduate school econ students?

Am I missing something?


  1. Simulation games when done properly are extremely fun.
    They're probably going with a big company like Micosoft due to some sort of security clearance issues as they'll probably be downloading and watching what people do so they can figure it out for themselves.
    I completely see this as having mass appeal... not sure that'll be a big box sell but something small or made into something like a Facebook game that'll go super viral.

  2. Oh...and it's pure genius...if you can't figure something out, ask as many people as possible and something that you didn't think about will appear!