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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E. Zachary KnightSo a journalist reporting on general gaming news mentions a specific developer and their game involved in said news, and it is suddenly some nefarious conspiracy to hide a conflict of interest. I think someone is reaching for validation.10/02/2014 - 10:53am
Andrew EisenYes, imagine anyone insisting that two utterences of the phrase "Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn" wasn't influenced by something happening in the future!10/02/2014 - 10:52am
Sleaker@Pap Midnight - So wouldn't it be any journalist writing about general gaming culture would need to disclose any and all links/ties to said general gaming culture to be ethical? Also @EZK to use you're own methodology, I'm still curious on the question10/02/2014 - 10:49am
KronoSure none of those are reviews, but it is positive exposure, which as illustrated by The Fine Young Capitalists, is pretty damn important for getting people to check out your work.10/02/2014 - 10:32am
Krono@Midnight and of course the article most people mention and insist was no way influenced by him being romantically involved only days later, and her friend beforehand here: http://goo.gl/xCzivK10/02/2014 - 10:29am
Papa MidnightThe term "lovers" might be pushing it given the apparent time frame, but I understand what you're saying. Even if they were friends at the time, then that may present impropiety. However, that calls for a Magic-8-Ball level of speculation.10/02/2014 - 10:26am
Krono@Midnight She was a guest on an RPS show he cohosted here: http://goo.gl/QxljSG10/02/2014 - 10:24am
prh99Personally I'd say her original piece on Bronies was far more ethically questionable. Though for different reasons.10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Krono@Midnight On the Grayson relationship? For starters it depends on how long they were friends before they were lovers. Nathan gave Depression Quest top billing back in this article: http://goo.gl/tqGsnW10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Papa MidnightIf said journalist, however, is placed into a position where they have to write about matters dealing with DICE, then yes, a COI is present and should be declared.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightHypothetically, if a developer from DICE starts dating a tech journalist from CNN tomorrow, so long as said CNN journalist is not (in)directly involved in any editorial process regarding matters dealing with DICE, there's no need to declare a COI.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightThere's no need for it. A declaration of a Conflict of Interest is only necessary in the event that the parties may be placed into a situation where the conflict may become a factor.10/02/2014 - 10:16am
Krono@prh99 It was after #gamergate. There was a post on r/games that called out the lack of disclosure.10/02/2014 - 10:12am
Papa MidnightKrono: If the purpose of such was to expose some conflict of interest, I am not sure what the purpose or end objective was. Specifically, said relationship had not produced any works positive or otherwise. Where's the beef?10/02/2014 - 10:09am
prh99I don't know, the update isn't dated. Also, actual attempt at deception or absent mindedness? "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"10/02/2014 - 10:06am
Krono@prh99 disclosed in an update after #gamergate noticed and called it out.10/02/2014 - 10:04am
Papa MidnightDriving people from their homes. e-Letter bombing (for all practical intents and purposes) advertisers like they're the FCC after a certain Superbowl half-time show to pull advertising from a media outlet for the crime of having an opinion?10/02/2014 - 10:00am
Papa MidnightIt's hard to drape yourself in the glory of your righteous campaign when you're exposing the personal information of a person, and following up with a campaign of harassment (organised or ortherwise). 12 year olds calling your personal cell for Five Guys?10/02/2014 - 9:58am
prh99http://kotaku.com/anna-anthropy-designer-behind-dys4ia-and-triad-and-au-1448084641 <--relationship disclosed10/02/2014 - 9:57am
Papa MidnightEven to this day, that remains the primary citation of those embarking in it. That said, the whole "it's not about harrassment" thing is comparable to making an extremely racist statement, then following up by saying "but I'm not a racist."10/02/2014 - 9:56am
 

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