Economic Illiteracy: The Video Game

The posters here are likely a good bit more tech-savvy then me, so they have probably seen ads for this spectacularly strange video game being released today. Here's a trailer for "Frontlines: Fuel of War", a fantasy about peak-oil-induced resource wars coming in 2024. It's actually pretty amusing. Can't wait for those weeks-long blackouts to start rolling across the country this summer!

What I'm wondering is this: Has anyone ever studied (very doubtfully) or wrote about (possibly) the impact of video games on political belief formation? I shudder to think of a generation of teens being taught about resource wars through first person shooters.

I've actually thought about this for a while. I remember playing SimCity and the various iterations of it, and I wonder if, subconsciously, games like that train people to think as planners. Houses in the way of progress? Switch to the bulldozer button and let the good times roll!

Schumpeter said that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction, subsidizing the intellectuals who would bring about its downfall. I doubt he thought the intellectuals would be sitting around learning resource economics from their XBox360s though.

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Re: Sim City

Back in the pre-historic times of this blog, there was a post along similar lines about Sim City.

I also vaguely recall a post about using video games to test monetary policy but can't seem to find it.

I was always disappointed

I was always disappointed that when I refused to do anything as mayor of Simcity, no spontaneous order arose. I think video games give people hero complexes, fueling a feeling of self-actualization. "Hey, I just saved the world! There's nothing I can't do!" It's just a hop, skip and a jump from that to Ayn Rand, and then libertarianism proper. Or that may just be me.

Sim Ant!

On the other hand, I thought Sim Ant was a pretty good demonstration of spontaneous order. In Sim Ant as I recall I didn't maintain the nest, all I did was slightly tip the balance in favor of my nest and against the enemy nest. The method was to control the behavior of a single ant at a time. I did not need to micromanage the colony because it regulated itself so well. It's been many years, but I think the game progressed interestingly even if I did absolutely nothing.