A Collection of Economic Games

Introduction to Our Games

Games should be fun but they can also provide understanding and give us insights. A key idea in much of economic life is that of a non-zero sum game. In many board games, such as checkers, if Anne wins, Bob loses. This type of game is called a "zero sum game" because whatever A wins, B loses. There is no gain to be had from cooperation.

In many economic games such as buying bread from your baker, both sides can win. The baker can earn a good living from the price at which she sells the bread and you get good bread at a price you are willing to pay. It is a "win-win" situation.

In many situations, coordination and cooperation benefit all sides. In other situations, competition helps. In some situations one can cooperate in making the cake as large as possible, but bargain as to how big a slice each person gets.

The games we present are designed to help you think about the problems in competition, cooperation and coordination. In economic life information may be important; fairness may matter; trust can count; incentives for all may help cooperation. The wrong incentives may result in actions that hurt all.

Although much of our economic life is concerned with making a living and buying what we need and want; much of it is governed by our habits, knowledge and beliefs. Some of the games are designed to show this.

Each game presented here is designed to be easy to play and to illustrate an idea that may be obvious after you think about it, but usually not before.