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Economist Interested in Game Design

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gpetersen
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Joined: 03/16/2017

Hi all!

I'm an economics PhD candidate in Vancouver, Canada. Like most economists, I'm also a board game enthusiast! (It's probably something to do with the abstract rules. Econ is all about abstract logical rules!)

I've tried designing games several times, starting when I was a teenager. I'm much more immersed in games now than I was then, and more aware of many important game design concepts.

So right now I'm working on an economic Eurogame based on the opium trade and the founding of Hong Kong. I don't have a title at the moment. There are a few other games with a similar theme, but none of them is at all similar in mechanics, so I'm confident my game is unique.

My game is centered around an auction mechanic. Players put some number of coins into their hands and extend them over the table. Then all players simultaneously reveal their bids, and the highest bidding player pays the second highest bid, with ties being broken in clockwise order starting from the one who initiated the bid. This is mathematically equivalent to having everyone go around the table bidding up in increments of one like in The Princes of Florence (or many other games). The difference is that this style of auction is much faster and less tedious and will allow for more auctions without slowing down the gameplay. (I just learned that this exact mechanic was actually used in an old Knizia game, Das letzte Paradies, back in 1993!)

There are other elements to the game, like a banking mechanic (players start with no money and need to rely on loans from a bank, but the bank can fail and cause bad things to happen), but I won't get into them right now.

Anyways, thanks for welcoming me to your forum!

stevebarkeruk
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Welcome

Welcome to the forum, your game sounds pretty cool to me!

gpetersen
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Thanks Steve!

Thanks Steve!

FrankM
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Welcome

Hi there, nice to see another practitioner of the Dismal Science!

As you go through your economics program, you'll here about something called Game Theory. Don't get you're hopes up; it's only tangentially related to game design :-) That said, the subset of Game Theory called mechanism design can be quite useful in the right hands.

An example of using this well is the English second-price auction you described. It reveals everyone's willingness to pay because no player has an incentive to bid higher or lower than they'd actually be willing to pay. I'd suggest one tweak, however:

Have each player bid their coins behind a screen or something rather than in hand. It's much easier to misdirect other players during bidding if the coins don't need to fit in-hand. You can quietly stack many coins, or make a racket with just two.

Looking forward to seeing the rest of this game, and everything else you bring to the forum.

gpetersen
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Joined: 03/16/2017
Thanks FrankM! I'll see about

Thanks FrankM! I'll see about screens for the later prototypes.

The Professor
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Interesting proposition...

Greeting and welcome to BGDF!

I'm not sure the validity of the statement, "Like most economists, I'm also a board game enthusiast!" but I appreciate the sentiment. Interestingly, it was because of the economics in a game that led me to serve as a developer and eventually as a designer on our now published game. One of the many things I noticed from my time with war games many years ago to present and today's growing number of designer board games is that the economics within the game tend to remain static...what attracted me to the game was its dynamic nature. Again, we're not trying to serve up a Masters class on economics, but basic supply and demand issues should remain relevant.

Anyway, welcome to you and we look forward to the dialogue!

Cheers,
Joe

gpetersen
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Thanks Joe! I look forward to

Thanks Joe! I look forward to the discussion.

The Professor wrote:
Again, we're not trying to serve up a Masters class on economics, but basic supply and demand issues should remain relevant.

Totally agree. A Master's class in economics would make a very bad game, too! The models we teach Master's students tend to feature a unique equilibrium that can be solved analytically. That would be a very dull optimizing exercise!

The economists I know of who think like game designers are experimentalists. They tend to work with models where there are multiple equilibria and interesting out-of-equilibrium dynamics. That's a very similar environment to the ones we see in well-designed games.

AbErRational
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Welcome! Knizia has used

Welcome!

Knizia has used that mechanic many times. For example Modern art has it (it actually has half a dozen different bidding mechanics, but anyways) and pretty surely many other designers have used it since then.

My latest prototype actually has similar mechanic, exept that I intentionally wanted to avoid using blind bidding and hidden information, just getting the behavior of it (quickness) into the game. The final result is almost as quick even though it will always be player dependant.

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