Category Archives: Social Science Games

McVideoGame: the other side of business gaming

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!

Monopoly Mod

Created by Francesco Crocco

To simulate how class inequality increases over time due to inherited wealth, land, and privilege

1. Define the word “monopoly” and talk about the ideas that the game embodies (competition, monopolization, survival of the fittest, level playing field, social mobility, the American Dream)

2. Make teams and assign each team a different class profile. I use the American profiles in Gregory Mantsios’ “Class in America: Myths and Realities,” Rereading America, 6th ed., ed. Colombo, Cullen, & Lisle (NY: Bedford St. Martin, 2004) 331-45.

3. Answer and discuss question one

4. Review the rules and write each profile’s starting assets on the board

Modified Rules
1) Players start with unequal amounts of money and land (this corresponds roughly to
“Samuelson’s Pyramid” in Mantsios’ essay)
a. Harold, Capitalist: $4000 + Boardwalk, Park Place, & 3 Railroads
b. Bob, Middle Class Worker: $1500 + New York Ave
c. Cheryl, Lower Class Worker: $1000
d. Maria, Immigrant Worker: $500

2) Fortune Die: Each time a player passes go, roll a six-sided die for a random event to
simulate privilege. Implement the outcome in terms of monetary rewards or fines.
a. Capitalist: 1 bad, 2 nothing, 4-6 good
b. Middle Class Worker: 1-2 bad, 3-4 nothing, 5-6 good
c. Lower Class Worker: 1-3 bad, 4 nothing, 5-6 good
d. Immigrant Worker: 1-4 bad, 5 nothing, 6 good

3) No private transactions are allowed

4) End the game after 3 turns around the board (3 Rounds). Should take 60 minutes.

5) If someone besides Harold is winning after three rounds, they get extra XP

5. Answer and discuss questions two and three

Sample Random Events
Good: stock gain, tax cut, subsidy, award, raise, promotion, welfare

Bad: rent hike, stock loss, unemployment, tuition hike, bail money, tax hike, medical expense

Pre-game Question
1) How do you think the game will end for your character?

Post-game Questions
2) How did inherited wealth, land and privilege affect the outcome of the game? How did it specifically affect your character?

3) How can opportunity be made equal?

Image credit: mtsofan