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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IronPatriotAndrew, since all of Gamergate's founding ethics claims turned out to be lies, all there really was to original gamergate were attacks on women in games. That is what Gamergate was built to conceal.08/04/2015 - 1:41am
Mattsworknamed by a single event, but area cumination of events over time that eventualyl lead to larger action.08/04/2015 - 1:41am
MattsworknameIP: Again, your attaching a common, prevelant issue in the Internet to a larger movment that formed over time in response to a wide mass of issues. Your argument is that because X was already present, it was the basis for the movment, but movments are not08/04/2015 - 1:41am
ZippyDSMleeMattsworkname: Take notes, then complie the notes when you can, eventually you can string together a proper story quickly. I have more issues with wanting to write vrs finding the time to write.08/04/2015 - 1:40am
Andrew EisenAlso, so far as I know, it was just Kotaku and Polygon. And interestingly, they have differing opinions on writers contributing to Kickstarter/Patreon.08/04/2015 - 1:40am
Andrew EisenI think "clarification" would be more accurate. Even "update."08/04/2015 - 1:38am
MattsworknameANdrew: Ok, what should I describe it as?08/04/2015 - 1:37am
Andrew EisenChanged their ethics policies? That's overselling it, don't you think?08/04/2015 - 1:35am
IronPatriotAndrew, before anti-science Baldwin coined "Gamergate", there was pre-existing harassment of women in gaming like Sarkeesian. Gamergate got applied to it to add an excuse, but all the "ethics" claims were lies.08/04/2015 - 1:34am
Andrew EisenGood general advice, I think: if you don't like someone's opinions to the point you find them upsetting, stop consuming their output.08/04/2015 - 1:33am
MattsworknameAndrew: Fair enough.08/04/2015 - 1:33am
Mattsworknameclaims were accurate08/04/2015 - 1:33am
MattsworknameIp: Again, you have no examples or indications as to what your refering to, so your argument is spurious at best. AS i said ,given that almost all the inital targets, save anita ,quin and such, have had the change there polices in response, I'd say the c08/04/2015 - 1:33am
Andrew EisenMatt - Most of the comments I've seen of his I thought were dumb. So... I don't read his Twitter.08/04/2015 - 1:33am
Andrew EisenBut yeah, a huge part of the what evolved into GamerGate was a focus on Zoe Quinn who had nothing to do with journalism or the ethics thereof.08/04/2015 - 1:31am
MattsworknameAndrew: Fair enough, i'll say say that I imagine most would find his actions in that regard vile and leave it at that, you can look into on your own if you like08/04/2015 - 1:31am
Andrew EisenIt's also a tough question to answer succinctly because GamerGate wasn't really created or founded. It evolved and adopted a name.08/04/2015 - 1:30am
IronPatriotAndrew, I am not talking about LATER claims by gamergaters. I am talking about what gamergate was FOUNDED to do.08/04/2015 - 1:29am
MattsworknameZippie: Ive had an idea for a story kicking around for years. just never got enough time to really put it together cohesively08/04/2015 - 1:28am
Andrew EisenI prefer to discuss specifics.08/04/2015 - 1:28am
 

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