I’m impressed by Budget Hero, a game from the American Marketplace radio show. It lets you see the effects of the various spending possibilities (bring the troops back home, raise the social security eligibility age, etc.) and see the long-term wealth of the nation. I played it once or twice, but I struggled to find it satisfying.
I think what we need is a SimCity-esque program for the nation. Want to pump money into healthcare? Fund private schools? Cut taxes? Allow private roads? Shut off immigration? Provide free tertiary education? Institute tougher prison sentences? Let’s see what those actions would do to not just the economy but also the wealth distribution, health, and general happiness of the nation. I note that SimCity has been open sourced and that Treasury publishes a lot of its research. Just add software developer!
SimNZ would be useful in schools, but I could easily see people playing it and using it to inform discussions of politicians policy proposals. Anything that takes policy discussion beyond “what? All I get is another block of cheese a week?” would have to be a good thing, no?