Games to Learn Economics

Games to Learn Economics

Understanding economics can sometimes be a bit tricky, but using games can make it both fun and educational. We'll explore a variety of games, including classroom activities and video games, that can help students of all ages get a better grasp of important economic concepts. If you're playing these games online, especially on shared or public networks, it's wise to use a VPN like PIA for California to protect your data and ensure a secure connection. A VPN can also help you access educational materials that might be restricted in some areas.

Classroom Games

Dollar AuctionThis game is perfect for the first day of class. Students are surprised when they end up bidding more than a dollar for a one-dollar bill. This teaches them about incentives and the sunk cost fallacy. It's an excellent way to demonstrate how economic principles apply to real-life decisions.

Property Rights / Tragedy of the Commons. In this game, students experience the incentives of the commons through a fisheries simulation. It shows why resource depletion can occur and how establishing property rights and social norms can prevent such outcomes. It's a fun and energetic way to teach the tragedy of the commons.

Supply and Demand Simulation. Using a deck of cards, students act as buyers and sellers with different willingness to pay and production costs. They make deals to maximize their surplus, illustrating how markets can reach an efficient equilibrium. This game is ideal for introducing market equilibrium and consumer and producer surplus.

Trading Game. This game introduces international trade principles. Students trade everyday items under varying rules, learning about voluntary exchange, preference differences, and gains from trade. It also shows how the size of the market impacts trade.

Market Structure Games. Students act as firms in different competitive conditions, like perfect competition, monopoly, and oligopoly. This game helps them understand the impact of different market structures on returns and market behavior.

Inflation Auction. This auction game demonstrates how increasing the money supply without increasing goods leads to inflation. It's a great way to introduce units on inflation and historical inflationary episodes.

Externality Game. Students simulate the trade-off between production and reducing negative externalities like pollution. By maximizing production while minimizing noise, they learn about the impact of different rules, such as cap-and-trade, on production and externalities.

Video Games

Offworld Trading Company. This game involves creating a successful interstellar trading company. Players start with planets like Mars and Earth and make decisions to expand their business. It's a great way to learn about resource management and economic expansion in a sci-fi setting.

Dune: Spice Wars. Set in the Dune universe, players aim to dominate Arrakis by harvesting spice. They must manage taxes, costs, and resources to keep their operations profitable and stable.

SimCity. In SimCity, players act as city planners, turning barren land into thriving metropolises. They learn to balance economic growth with the demands of a growing city.

The Yakuza Series. While primarily crime games, titles like Yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Like A Dragon include business management side-quests. Players experience real estate and business management, providing a taste of economic principles.

Civilization Revolution. This game asks players to lead a civilization from early settlement to a world power. One victory path involves economic dominance, requiring players to earn and manage gold effectively.

Stardew Valley. Players restore a rundown farm to its former glory by managing resources and changing strategies with the seasons. It's a great way to learn about agricultural economics and resource management.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale. Players run an item shop, managing inventory, pricing, and trends. They also go on adventures to find new items to sell, blending business management with RPG elements.

RimWorld. In this colony simulator, players manage resources to build a community on an alien planet. They learn about production, market value, and economic growth in a challenging environment.

Financial Literacy Games

Capitalism. This classic business simulation game allows players to run a company, avoiding bankruptcy and outcompeting rivals. It offers insights into starting and managing a business.

Virtonomics. A massively multiplayer online game, Virtonomics simulates building a business in a competitive market. Players learn about various industries and business strategies.

Pharaoh. Players control ancient Egyptian societies, managing resources, trade, and production. The game introduces economic principles through historical city-building challenges.

Cities: Skylines. Players build and manage a city, balancing budgets, infrastructure, and economic planning. It's a modern take on city-building with a focus on economic management.

Theme Park World and Roller Coaster Tycoon. In these games, players run theme parks, managing finances, staff, and attractions. They learn about business management and economic planning in an engaging setting.

Civilization VI. This strategy game allows players to lead a civilization from early times to modernity. They can achieve victory through economic superiority, requiring effective resource and trade management.

Animal Crossing: New Horizon. Players create a community on an island, managing resources and crafting items. The game's currency system teaches economic principles in a fun, accessible way.

Kerbal Space Program. In Career Mode, players manage a space program, balancing funding, research, and missions. They learn about budgeting and resource management in a space exploration context.

These games offer interactive and enjoyable ways to learn economic concepts, making complex ideas accessible and engaging for students of all ages. Whether in the classroom or on a screen, these games provide valuable lessons in economics.