Reserve Bank governor-designate Alan Bollard should be well prepared as he negotiates new inflation targets with the government: he has the benefit of having previously played the roles of both finance minister and bank governor.
But “played” is the operative word. Bollard was the author in 1996, with two others, of Oikonomos, an economics simulation game (Oikonomos is Greek for economics; oik means uncouth person, and was a pitch for the youth market).
“It’s an educational game,” says Bollard. “You get to play at being minister of finance and governor of the bank at the same time.”
As the clock ticks and political poll and economic data rolls in, players prepare budgets and tinker with the money supply. When the general election rolls round, if your party wins, you’re in line for promotion to prime minister. There’s a hall of fame where top players can take their place alongside the likes of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, while players of lesser abilities will end up in the company of Pol Pot and Rob Muldoon.
Bollard says he was the economics brain behind the game, writing a mathematical model for growth and inflation. While its graphics aren’t flash by today’s standards, he says it does include original music written by a musicology PhD student.
At $39.95, Bollard doesn’t know how many copies sold from the “few thousand” that were burnt.
“We never made much money from it.”
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