Twelve Easy Games

Economics is about cooperation to manage the world. Its a very interesting subject, but can sometimes be off-putting because of its high level of abstraction. Students often encounter this in a sudden immersion in some manipulation of algebra or charts that represents the abstraction of complex interactions in a human community. Although powerful these methods can repel some students not motivated to see the power of these abstractions.

This course tries to surmount the problem by turning it around. The class itself is a community, just like the participants in an economy. So we pose a series of problems to be solved by the class as a community, merging student choices in a way that shows something about how larger human communities behave.

We do this by linking students up to a web page where the games are specified. All students I have met recently have laptops, which they tend to use them when they should be listening to lectures. I hope to capture the natural interest of students in playing on the internet into discovering elements of economics. All economics is about how communities most effectively work together to control their environment. Here we use the little community of the classroom to solve limited but illustrative problems from which we may derive some conclusions.

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