In a way, it could be argued that most games teach business concepts, insofar as a great many games center on resource-management. Games as divergent as chess, Monopoly, poker, and even baseball (think about deploying the right players in the right situations) require players to manage limited resources to effect the best possible results. Add to that the fact that the business classroom already has a long history of using games in the classroom–how many of us played the Stock Market Games in introductory economics?–and you might wonder if there is anything new that game designers can offer to business curricula.
With the new emphasis on business ethics in universities, I would submit that the McDonalds Game can offer a great deal for a business class to discuss in terms of balancing the desire for profit with ethical behavior.
The goal of McVideoGame is simple: generate as much profit as possible. Of course, too much ethically questionable behavior–like deforesting old-growth forests or serving meat from diseased cows–is bad for business, so you want to do right just enough of the time to avoid irrevocably bad PR, and spin the rest away through advertising campaigns.
You play the game until you lose–a la Space Invaders–but the point the game tries to make comes across even without a single, full play-through. Still, playing through can be very instructive. When I played the game, I lost even though I was turning a profit for the company. My problem? I wasn’t making enough of a profit. Played it with a little too much of a conscious for the executives’ taste!