The Economy as a Game


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I haven’t played a video game beyond the web-based flash games in a few months, mainly because I’d rather be playing with my little boy instead these days. However, I certainly logged in enough hours in the years prior to his birth to have some insight into gaming. Strategy games were always my favorite, followed closely by builder type games. The more epic the scale, the more I enjoyed it. Civilization, Age of Empires, Master of Orion, whatever the title, I snarfed them and their sequels up as quickly as I could. 

More recent editions of some of these games were packaged with editors allowing users to create their own races with unique attributes, new resources, terrain, units–anything really. You could practically write a new game with some of the editing capabilities. Beyond a few futile attempts, I never bothered tweaking the games very much. Each time I’d attempt a change, even one that was seemingly minor, the game play would be noticeably and significantly different. The change might mean that one race (usually mine) became far superior to the others, or that a resource that could only appear on one type of terrain squeezed out another resource with similar constraints which kept everyone in the stone age for thousands of years.
The point is that small changes to a system can have resounding effects across the system. In a video game, the effects of a change can be determined within a few hours of playing. As a trained chemical engineer, I have seen real world manufacturing and processing systems that might take days or weeks for the effect of the change to be known in their entirety. When the system is as large as the global economy, minor changes can take years to make the effects felt.
All the world’s a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players: 
They have their exits and their entrances; 
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
We are all simply players–not necessarily of a play, but a game. In this game there are certain rules by which we must all abide. The issue I have with the game as it is being played in recent days is that the rules are continuously changing. These changes are not always minor and in some cases very great. We will not know the ultimate effect of the changes for many years to come. 
Need proof? What got me thinking about this is this story. Change the tax laws, change the object of the game.

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    How to Recover the Economy | robschwenck.com

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