Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are modern economies too complicated to game?

Many moons ago, when I was able to wear belts several inches shorter than today, there were some reasonably popular stock trading games out there. One was the prosaically maned The Stock market Game published by Avalon Hill, another was Stocks & Bonds, which was part of the 3M line. The Avalon Hill game, unsurprisingly, featured a bit more authenticity in the details and allowed for more player input into the process of price-setting, but both games seemed fairly successful at capturing the essence of how the markets worked. The Avalon Hill game even had a solitaire version that allowed the player to play against the historical Market Crash of 1929 and see if he could make money in that Bear market.

So the games seemed realistic enough, according to how the stock market worked in the 1960s.

Are there comparable games now? I wonder if modern financial instruments have gotten too complicated to capture in a game format, even in an abstract way. I'm no expert, but it's my understanding that traditional stocks and bonds are just a small part of the whole picture today. Could such a game be designed?

In the abstract one would think so. War, for example, is also a complicated human endeavor and yet there's no shortage of wargames. Or is modern finance even more complicated than warfare?

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