Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

June 2, 2008 -

The use of game tech to explore public policy alternatives is touted by futurist Jamais Cascio, writing for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

The big advantage of games as a foresight device is the capacity to fail in interesting ways: you can try out different, even bizarre, strategies for success, and do so without worry of harming yourself or others. It’s a form of rehearsal, a way to understand the ways in which the present may be manipulated to create a desirable tomorrow.
 

Cascio makes his case by detailing a trio of policy-oriented simulations. He leads off with Oil ShockWave, a petro-crisis simulation developed at Harvard. While previous editions were studied at the 2006 World Economic Forum and at the 2007 Aspen Strategy Group conference, a new version is intended for college classroom use. From the game's Harvard website:

Students play the roles of U.S. Cabinet members developing a policy response to a potentially devastating crisis that affects global oil supplies. Situations are presented primarily through pre-produced newscasts, video briefings and insert cards handed to the students during discussion. The exercise vividly illustrates the links between oil, the economy, and national security.

 

The box set... contains maps, multimedia components, simulated newscasts, a range of background materials, and an instructor's manual. To ensure that the latest information is always available to you, the box set will be fully web-supported...

GP: I must concur with Cascio's lament that the game is not generally available. It  sounds fascinating.

Cascio also looks at Budget Hero, a sim sponsored by American Public Media's Marketplace program:

Unlike some budget sims that give you nearly line-item control over what’s in and what’s out, Budget Hero limits your options to options that sound like policy proposals—Cap & Limit Greenhouse Gases, Link Alternative Minimum Tax to Inflation, and so forth. You also start with three budget priority badges, reflecting the positions you take as a leader.

Cascio is less impressed with Immune Attack, a health-themed game designed for high school classrooms.

 


Comments

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

Meh,I prefer games that allow you to escape world problems.

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

Being homeschooled (conventional schooling doesn't work for me, homework, warksheets, don't need it. Give me the book and then the test and I'm good to go) Oil Shockwave would be graet, they should consider making a watered down version for general distribution.

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

I'm tempted to make an oil & water mixing joke... Personally I'd prefer a full on version, a game where you had to research to succeed would be cool. The winners would be the informed ones & the losers would watch faux news & think everything is flowers & chocolate.

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

Yeah, oil shockwave sounds interesting, it'd be a good large scale multiplayer game where you have to think about what you do or the entire world would be destroyed! 

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

Sounds nice, and it's another effective way to get more people aware of peak oil.

Re: Using Games to Explore Public Policy Issues

Oil Shockwave sounds really cool...  I'd like to play that :)

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Andrew EisenKrono - Many of the people pushing gender issues aren't nice people? I'm sure not everyone's a sweatheart but so far, everyone I've seen with such a critique had absolutely nothing to back them up.09/19/2014 - 10:46am
InfophileI think there's a qualitative difference between a site and a hashtag though. GP can ban anyone from commenting, so they can have the image they want. But anyone can use any hashtag and try to poison it. Granted, that hasn't happened to the other one yet09/19/2014 - 10:13am
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Krono@Michael You don't remember the "other hashtag" because no one actually uses it. We're talking 836,983 uses of #gamergate over it's lifetime, and 8,119 for the "alternative". 47,129 uses on the 18th vs 41. With #notyourshield at 140,133 uses & 5,209 uses09/19/2014 - 9:48am
Kronoresearch it. Changing tags to get away from trolls would be like wiping GamePolitics and restarting under a new name to get away from people calling Jack Thompson a filthy names in the comments section.09/19/2014 - 9:35am
Sleaker@quiknkold - seems like all that page is is a bunch of random developer opinions and rumors that we're supposedto do what with?09/19/2014 - 9:31am
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Krono@Andrew aaah. Yes, I'm sure there's some of that. Part of the problem is many of the people pushing gender issues are not very nice people. Basically the latest incarnation of moralists we've seen in the past couple decades. Naturually some will take this09/19/2014 - 9:23am
quiknkoldhttp://www.nichegamer.net/2014/09/real-gamedevs-sound-off-regarding-the-gamergate-controversy/09/19/2014 - 8:35am
MaskedPixelanteMeanwhile, in news that actually DOES matter, Scotland voted "NO" to Scottish independance.09/19/2014 - 8:20am
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quiknkold2 to 3 or more09/19/2014 - 6:53am
quiknkoldMichael Chandra : I'll say this. The only reason they havent used another hashtag is because it would look like a form of dividing the arguement. Using another Hashtag has come up, and they feel like if they made a new hashtag, it'll split the debate from09/19/2014 - 6:53am
Michael ChandraYou want a debate? Build a wall between you and the poisoned well. Make clear you despise it, despise the behaviour. Then get into the other issues you are troubled with, and don't say a single word again about the poisoned well.09/19/2014 - 3:46am
 

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