Games Economists Play

“Games lubricate the body and the mind.” Benjamin Franklin

Classroom games can be an excellent way of introducing economic concepts. Well-designed games, or classroom experiments, can help students obtain an intuitive understanding of a concept before it is introduced formally, thus increasing the understanding and comprehension of the theoretical concept.

This list, compiled by Greg Delemeester and Jurgen Brauer, contains descriptions of about 170 different classroom games, classified according to the topic they illuminate (e.g. externalities, wealth distribution, or international trade). The list also provides links to electronic versions of the papers describing each game in detail.

I have tried several of these games for different courses, and find them extremely useful for introductory sessions or sessions where an energy boost is needed (those evening classes where students tend to be tired after 8-9 hours of work before classes). For example, I used the quite elaborate game #89 on International Trade and Relations as an introduction to a Development Economics Course. While playing this game, the students learn about a wide variety of concepts, including comparative advantages, trade, inequality, environmental quality and national accounting. At the same time the game works as a great ice breaker and team building exercise.

Used in moderation, and adequately adapted to the situation at hand, such games can be a great complement to the usual teaching methods.


Do you know any great online games for economics students? Leave a reply below and we will compile the suggestions into a post about Great Online Games for Students of Economics.

Lykke E. Andersen is the Director of the Center for Economic and Environmental Modeling and Analysis (CEEMA) at the Institute of Advanced Development Studies (INESAD), La Paz, Bolivia.

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