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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Playing Games with Economics

A video game designed to teach the principles of microeconomics:

Aliens Teach University Economics Class, by Nell Boyce, NPR, All Things Considered: ...[S]tudents taking ECON 201 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro ... don't even come to class, they just log in to the Internet. The entire microeconomics course is a video game that students play online to earn three college credits.

A Sarbonian hunter in Jeff Sarbaum's online ECON 201 game.
Camera Watch Sarbonians Crash-Land on Earth and Grapple with Economics of Survival

...The Sarbonian aliens are named after economics professor Jeff Sarbaum. "This is a game in which the students are literally immersed in a story. And they take on the role of a character," he explains. "So all of the reading material, all of the content, all of the examinations and homework, if you will, are built inside the engine of the game."

The Sarbonians come from an alien world that knows no scarcity. After they crash-land on Earth, the students have to grapple with economic challenges like how to make and distribute goods, and how to trade with another group of aliens.

A screenshot of Sarbonians negotiating outside a cave on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

..."I believe we are the first ones to fully emerge students in a narrative story and treat the whole course as a game," Sarbaum says...

In his microeconomics game, a robot acts like a tutor. As the game goes on, the characters talk more and more like economists. ...

To gauge how well students are picking up on the concepts, they take multiple-choice tests as they move through the different levels of the game. ...

    Posted by on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 12:06 AM in Economics, Technology, Universities | Permalink  TrackBack (2)  Comments (11)


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