Skip to Content

making a game based on three different economies

20 replies [Last post]
lego
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

now recently i decided to venture out of the world of abstracts and parlor games, and venture into the world of war and civilization games. My first project will be to make a game based on a leftist economy, a rightist econnomy and a mixed economy. Ive already solved the problem of representing a population and representing different establishments, however the dillema of accurately simulating the features of each economy still remains. I feel their would be too much of a strategic advantage to the Communist player who would be the only one with complete control over his resources. Can you help me?

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
making a game based on three different economies

Make the Communist one less efficient (so it takes them more resources to produce the same result)? Not that I'm suggesting that a purely Capitalist economy would automatically be as efficient as possible, but it's only a simulation after all ;-)

lego
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

well of course i considered a number of handicaps for the communist player however this still doesnt change the fact that the poor market guy wont have any fun because all he will be doing is rolling dice. I thought perhaps that he could just roll the dice to see how much developing establishments will cost where the communist player could have fixed prices. Also do think i will need ten sided dice for this game? Im having trouble finding some at my local game store. The cashier made a really annoying joke, he said "Well we have 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 11 sided dice but we just ran out of stock on ten sided dice."

TheReluctantGeneral
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

Why not have the market player roll dice for the cost of various resources one or more turns in the future? In reality market economies have some degree of ability to predict future market behaviour. You'd have to keep track of resource prices on some kind of track, but at least the capitalist player has some ability to plan ahead.

Alternatively you could rip off the market pricing mechanism from power-grid, but this might be too complex for your game.

lego
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

feel free to offer more suggestions on the original problem if you think you got one, but now im wondering about a battle system that eliminates apposed dice rolls. In each economy are four different industries and within each industry are 2 different establishments, most of them relating to seperate geographical areas. anyway one such establishment is miliatary. you invest in your miliatary to improve its strength and also buy your armies - essentially paying the wages of the troops. In this way if you have a strong miliatary and say only one unit, then you would be able to defeat 2 units without any cassualties so long as the opponent youre attacking has a weak miliatary. My first question is, will this system work? Also could somebody explain how i might attach this component mathematically?

Jpwoo
Jpwoo's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/26/2009
making a game based on three different economies

I think if your big picture game is about differing styles of government and economic systems you should almost completely abstract the military aspect of things.

Eliminate units all together. On a global scale you could boil it down to just two or three traits.

For example: You could invest in your military, and upgrade either, "Size" or "State of the Art"(SotA). Size helps determine how many different conflicts you can be involved in. SotA determines how likely you are to win a conflict.

(I suppose this is a "unit" system, but the units are so big as to represent Tens of thousands of troops.)

You also might consider factors such as Mobility, or Nuke investment.

Consider modern combat from the point of view of resources. Look at the current Iraq war. "Winning" it isn't being done by brilliant tactics. It is ultimately being won by an investment in time, money and lives.

So you could set up a diceless system where when a conflict is iniated the two sides have to "buy points in it"

Imagine the Viet Nam war from this perspective. The communist player decides he wants to take over French Indo-china. So he invests 5 army in overthrowing it. The french don't have a lot of resources to protect it. So they put in 1 army to protect it. Every turn the communist player gains "4" conquest in the space. When he reaches some total, say, 10. The space becomes his.

The Free Market, or American player decides he doesn't want this to happen. So he takes over. Also investing 5 army in the territory. Making the war a stand still. Ultimately the big investment of resources wear the players down, and they agree to end the conflict.

Quote:
The cashier made a really annoying joke, he said "Well we have 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 11 sided dice but we just ran out of stock on ten sided dice."

Where do you live? I wouldn't return to that store if I could avoid it. (or buy as many 9 sided dice as I could...those sound cool!)

OutsideLime
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

Quote:
"Well we have 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 11 sided dice but we just ran out of stock on ten sided dice."

And those 1-sided dice are so useful.... when you need to determine the occurrence of an event that has 100% chance of happening.

~Josh

CDRodeffer
Offline
Joined: 08/04/2008
Re: making a game based on three different economies

lego wrote:
My first project will be to make a game based on a leftist economy, a rightist econnomy and a mixed economy. [...T]he dillema of accurately simulating the features of each economy still remains. I feel their would be too much of a strategic advantage to the Communist player who would be the only one with complete control over his resources. Can you help me?
For starters, I recommend you research some of the games that have been done on the topic in the past. One of the best places to start would be Crusoe's Planet:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/10529

The weakness of the communist economic system (it breaks if anyone is corrupt) is represented mechanically in that game by temptations to act toward personal (rather than collective) benefit. It's a fascinating economic simulation tool, although I don't know how much entertainment interest it would hold as a game. I've had the game for years and never found anyone (other than myself) who wanted to play it.

Clark

MattMiller
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

I lived and traveled in Eastern Europe through most of the 90's (2 years in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and 4 years in Vilnius, Lithuania; also visited Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Russia). Watching these countries make the transition from communism to capitalism gave me strong opinions about what's right and wrong with those systems.

Communism loses for many reasons -- more than just its vulnerability to corruption -- and I think several of those might be interesting to represent in a game.

One major problem is the sheer complexity of managing a large economy. The Soviet authorities would get together periodically and make a plan for how many of each and every item the country would try to produce before the next meeting (this was supposed to be done every 5 years, but in reality it happened more often). The trouble is, if they said that Lada would produce X number of cars, they had to remember to say that the bolt companies must make enough bolts for those cars, and the steel mills must manufacture the right amount of steel, and the paper mills had to make the right amount of paper for the paperwork associated with all of this, and it quickly gets completely out of hand. They always ended up making too little of one thing and too much of another.

For example, in Czechoslovakia, there were often shortages of many products, but there was always a surplus of this stupid thing called "Club Sugar". Club Sugar was sugar cubes shaped like card suits. Nobody wanted the damned stuff. People would only buy it to crumble up when they couldn't get plain, granulated sugar. One of my students told me that he'd worked in the office of the Club Sugar factory and that, to the management, the fact that nobody wanted to buy their product was considered a storage problem!

Another problem with trying to plan an economy is a failure to anticipate innovation and the needs that it creates. The best story I have illustrating this point comes not from my own experience but from my father's. My father was a physicist, and was invited to give a talk in the USSR in 1967. While having dinner with the head of the lab that was hosting him, he asked the following question:

"Suppose I want to do an experiment that requires a particular type of artificial diamond. What I do is I go down the hall to a room where they keep catalogs, I get out some catalogs from diamond manufacturers, and I look up the type of diamond that I need. I then write down the catalog number and call the purchasing department. If I need to do the experiment quickly, I can have the diamond rush delivered, and I'll get it in a day or two. What do you do?"

My father's host began his reply with "Well, I have this friend who owes me a favor ...". He then went on to detail a host of back-channel wheelings and dealings and contingency plans. If he was lucky, he'd get the diamond in a year. If he was unlucky, he'd have to set up his own facility and make it himself.

This inability to anticipate innovation translates into a downright discouragement of it. Of course, innovative people will invent new things no matter how the odds are stacked against them, but the communist societies were particularly resistant to the results. In my early days in Lithuania, before the transition was in full swing, I was struck by the similarity between present-day shops and what I'd see in old Soviet movies on TV. The layouts of the stores, the decorations, the labels on the cans, the shapes of the milk bottles -- everything hadn't changed in 30 or 40 years. Two generations of graphic designers had come and gone without doing anything, so far as I could see.

A third problem was the disconnect between what people were rewarded for and what they were really doing. This showed up in a variety of places. One that particularly caused me fits was in accounting practices. I had my own company in Lithuania, and I couldn't hire a competent accountant for love or money. The problem was that Soviet accounting, which was the only thing anybody had experience with, was just an exercise in obfuscation. It really didn't matter if the factory was really meeting its quotas, so long as it looked like the factory was meeting its quotas. Of course, this was in the interest of the management, but it was also in the interest of the local authorities, and their bosses, and so on all the way up to the Kremlin. As a result, accounting gradually became a matter of creating the illusion that the USSR had a successful economy.

Hiring practices were also all screwy. The communist philosophy conflates employment with charity. As a result, resumes in those societies read more like applications for charitable donations than applications for jobs, listing things like how many mouths the applicant had to feed or details of his mother's illness. The law, as I understand it, said that each job had to be given to the first applicant to have the paper qualifications for it. Thus, if you needed to hire a computer programmer, you had to hire the first guy with a degree in programming. To make this system work, there had to be degrees available in everything -- waitressing, custodial services, etc. It was truly bizarre, and led to a high degree of misplacement in the workforce.

The list of problems goes on and on. People who really wanted to do good work, and there were many, were constantly discouraged by their peers ("you're making us look bad") and never encouraged by the system. Doctors were paid the same as janitors ("from each according to his own ability", you know -- the janitor can't do brain surgery). Low-level functionaries were paid to get in the way of people who wanted to get stuff done. Etc. Etc.

So a communist player in a game should have quite a few handicaps. He should often find himself producing stuff he doesn't need, and failing to produce stuff he does. He should be unable to take advantage of unanticipated innovations quickly. He should often be blind-sided by shortages of stuff that the accountants told him was plentiful. And, of course, he shouldn't produce stuff nearly as efficiently as his capitalist opponent.

On the other hand, pure capitalism has its own problems. Of course, there isn't really such a thing as a "pure" market economy, in which government plays no roll at all. You need to have such government intervention as guarantees of property rights, monetary policies, securities laws, monopoly busting, etc. to develop an economy much beyond a collection of tribes. And, to enact and enforce these laws, the government needs to have some form of income, so tariffs and/or taxes are inevitable (some Libertarians I know think that government can be funded by voluntary donations, but I believe that's just fantasy). It's thus impossible to have a market economy that isn't influenced to some extent by government intervention.

But, for the closest historical approximation to "pure" capitalism, we can take the US economy before FDR. I think this is what economic right-wingers long to return to, so it seems an appropriate choice (even though there were many government interventions that fly in the face of the purity of the market, such as government funding of the railroads or foreign interventions conducted on behalf of American companies). The core problem with that type of economy is apparent from its history: it is wildly unstable, both economically and socially.

Economically, a capitalist economy can often soar. But it can also come crashing down. In spite of all the problems with communism, a typical Russian was probably better off (in purely economic terms) than many Americans during The Great Depression. Within these extremes, capitalism's performance can fluctuate wildly.

Socially, a capitalist economy tends to create ever widening separation between the rich and the poor. In game terms, it has a big runaway leader problem. This actually adds to the economic instability -- eventually the captains of industry have nobody left to sell anything to -- but its most direct consequence is social unrest. The losers' see their only hope as changing the rules of the game. I seem to remember that one of FDR's stated motivations for creating the partial welfare state we have today was to avoid a wholesale communist revolution.

Thus, the capitalist player should have unpredictable handicaps. He should suffer occasional economic collapse, and he should have to worry about the gap between rich and poor.

In thinking about your game project, though, I'm wondering whether it might be more fun for each player to decide for himself how he wants to run his economy. Communism and "pure" capitalism should be two extreme strategies (with their own pitfalls), but there should be a continuum of different mixtures available as choices. Maybe the players can decide which segments of their economy will be state-run, which will be subsidized, which will be regulated, and which will be left to their own devices. With the right system, it could be really engaging.

-- Matt

MattMiller
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
The length of my preceding post

Um ... I think that might be the longest post I've written anywhere. I hope nobody minds. It's a topic of great interest to me.

-- Matt

bluesea
bluesea's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
making a game based on three different economies

To take things sideways a bit…

Another way to add some spice to the game may be to add a Dictatorship (or Anti-economy) to the list. In a dictatorship the path to victory may be to make as much money for himself he can, while staying in power and not being overthrown by the pressures of a coup or assassination. If a coup takes place, there could be a way to place the Dictator into exile and allow him a chance to seize back control. The Victory path for the Dictator may be completely different from the other players: The Dictator may need to accumulate so much money, or remain in power for a certain number of turns,

The way that the Dictatorship lead regime may function would be based on three things:
1. Corruption
2. Corruption
3. Corruption

It will be characterized by (super) high inflation, labor strikes and riots, inability to feed his country, poor education, utter economic and social stagnation, etc., etc…

So why include such a thing in your game? The reason I think it is appropriate to include such a character is that it is important (for reality sake, not just to be preachy) for you to show the dependency of the greater economic powers on the undeveloped world and the exploitation that takes place.

The Dictator can negotiate with the other players for things like fishing rights, mining rights, exporting high quality food (say rice) and importing a lesser quality substitute for his people to eat. The Dictatorship can receive aid from the other players; in return the other players receive some sort of bonus for their international development work, or extra influence power in a collective UN type voting body.

Quote:
Ive already solved the problem of representing a population and representing different establishments, however the dillema of accurately simulating the features of each economy still remains.

I guess what I am implying here also, is that the interaction between these economies may be more interesting than their idealized isolated behaviors.

Hedge-o-Matic
Hedge-o-Matic's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/30/2008
Re: The length of my preceding post

MattMiller wrote:
Um ... I think that might be the longest post I've written anywhere. I hope nobody minds. It's a topic of great interest to me.

-- Matt

That was a geat post. This isn't an attention-deficient crowd, as a rule. Post on, bro!

Hedge-o-Matic
Hedge-o-Matic's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/30/2008
making a game based on three different economies

I would suggest breaking down your economic model into discreet parts, each interdependant and independantly controlled, and have the players try out various combination of economoc factors, producing their own economic models.

This could get complex, however since many of these factors are intangibles, such as greed, the effect of advertizing, fads, labor disputes, contacts, ethics, and so on.

Anonymous
making a game based on three different economies

you could also explore the quantity versus quality aspects of these economies.

fewer high quality units, versus more lower quality units.

or you could remove the economic aspects for the leftist side so they focus on different combinations, while the rightists concentrate on money.

find a way to have units and money compete in the combat system

Anonymous
making a game based on three different economies

I also had once so sort of idea, not very specifie but it was more like;

There are 4 different types of states possible

Anarchist
Communist
Democratic
dictatoship

The players decide wich state it is going to be, by manipulating.

Each state had different pro's and cons.

Like a communist state there is no trade with, and a lot of food production.
Or an anarchist state everything decreases.

Like is you have an lot of farmers and another player too then you can work together and make an communist state, or if you have a lt of military then you can make an dictatorship.

I hope you can understand some of what I was thinking, because my english is bad sorry fot that.

CodeFalcoN
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

Heh, an economy in an anarchist state by definition alone seems ironic ;)

bluesea
bluesea's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
making a game based on three different economies

Quote:
There are 4 different types of states possible

Anarchist
Communist
Democratic
dictatoship

I've said it before, I’ll say it again...I really think that this game needs to have a dictatorship in it. I'm sure we all know someone we play games with who would make a fine dictator!

-John

copycat
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

Quote:
Heh, an economy in an anarchist state by definition alone seems ironic ;)

actually, a peaceful anarchist society should function much like a pure capitalist society.

lordpog
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
making a game based on three different economies

For this game you'd have to be a dictator. If you weren't, then you'd be a democracy, and voters would choose the economic system, not you.

Emphyrio
Emphyrio's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/10/2010
Re: The length of my preceding post

MattMiller wrote:
Um ... I think that might be the longest post I've written anywhere. I hope nobody minds. It's a topic of great interest to me.

That was a fascinating analysis! Bravo!

Emphyrio
Emphyrio's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/10/2010
making a game based on three different economies

lordpog wrote:
For this game you'd have to be a dictator. If you weren't, then you'd be a democracy, and voters would choose the economic system, not you.

Not necessarily -- you (the player) could represent the aggregate will of the voters. Just as in a strategic wargame, you don't necessarily represent a single commander, but more like the Joint Chiefs of Staff plus the Secretary of Defense and the President.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut