Using online games to teach economics

Playing simple short games is an increasingly common way of teaching a number of key concepts and theories in economics.

In our experience, using short games in the classroom is a great way to engage students. In addition, it facilitates understanding of the underlying economic theory and reveals the implications of the predictions made. There is also proof suggest that the introduction of games can have a positive impact on student learning.

These games usually take between 20 and 40 minutes. During this time, students make decisions and learn the consequences of their payments (winnings) at the end of the round. Then, in subsequent rounds, they can react to the results of their previous behavior and the behavior of their classmates.

Traditionally, classroom games were held in a paper format in face-to-face sessions. For example, experimental economics pioneer Charles Holt demonstrated that regular playing cards can be used to make it easier to launch games.

However, over the past ten years, many online versions of economic games have been developed. Students can play these games on laptops, tablets or even mobile phones. As a result, it is now possible to play online games in the classroom or even remotely.

The following websites provide, usually free of charge, a wide range of single player and interactive games, covering topics such as game theoryindustrial organization, macroeconomicsenvironment and finance:

Created by Charles Holt, this site offers a wide variety of free games. These include classic lotteries and intertemporal decision games, as well as many market games. All of them are presented with simple graphics and user-friendly interface. The results can be presented in graphical form and saved for review in future sessions.

Again free, this site offers a range of single and multiplayer games. These range from simple games to more complex simulations such as pricing strategies and market competition.

This is another site that offers a wide variety of free games. One very nice feature is that instructors can access the code behind these games. It’s easy to see how this code works. The games can then be easily modified to suit your needs. In addition, you can also create your own games. This feature also allows you to insert student profiles at the beginning, during and after the game.

Access to games on this site requires a subscription fee. The games are presented with complex graphics and are based on a number of real settings. There is an option to invite students to play games against pre-programmed robot players. In addition, survey software is built-in and tasks can be set based on gameplay.

A good way to learn how these online games work is to set yourself up as an instructor on your laptop or desktop and as individual players on your phone or tablet. Spending 10 minutes or so over a few rounds will make it much clearer how the game works, both from the mentor’s point of view and the students’ point of view.

In addition to these offerings, the Economics Network has a number of resources to help you use games in the classroom. We encourage you to experiment with this fun learning method!

This article was produced in collaboration with the Economics Network, the largest and oldest academic organization dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of economics in higher education. Learn more about the economic network here.