OCADu Major Research Project

Rethinking Economy-Building Video Games: How might designers inspire new economic models through video game mechanics?

I completed this research in January, 2022. It is available to read here.

This study investigates how economic ideas are manifested in the gameplay mechanics of economy-building, strategy, and management video games (in the vein of SimCity). The study investigates the possibility of influencing paradigmatic thinking of wellbeing, growth, and circularity (among others) through the economic models of games and their procedural rhetoric. It explores the assumptions, biases, and ideologies that this subgenre of games expresses as well as the influence this has on players, and future possibilities for integrating pluralist economics, including ecological economics, into gameplay mechanics. This exploration was achieved through eighteen interviews with game designers as well as players with experience in economics. The final synthesis of this study is a prototype toolkit to facilitate game designers’ systematic evaluation of some of the assumptions behind their work in support of efforts to create engaging and entertaining economy-building video games based on some key ecological economics and other new economics themes.