Gaming America’s Budget
A while back American Public Media created an online game that lets users tweek spending categories to see if they can get the US fiscal house in order.
Obviously relevant to the ongoing debate about debt ceilings, “Budget Hero” is a nice attempt at “gamifying” a dense topic but critics are bound to have their say. And they do, just take a look at the comments:
This is very poorly designed, with options skewed entirely to the right. Where is single payer health care? Boom! The Budget is solved! Where is a millionaire’s 40% bracket? Where is raising the FICA tax limit to 90% of all earned income, as that is what the 1980’s Greenspan commission used as a key factor in their calculations? Where is the financial transactions tax? Where are tax credits for manufacturing? What about stimulus? Also, your descriptions are inadequate. I can’t tell if your baseline has the Bush Tax Cuts expiring.
Sometimes a game is just a game… until it’s on a news site where it has to be so much more.
“The sheer number of possible priorities that arise from replay may make the game’s most important statement about the national budget: it’s complex and riddled with conflict,” writes Ian Bogost in his co-authored book Newsgames: Journalism at Play.
Bringing games to journalism is much discussed and there are exciting possibilities. It’s also difficult to keep your game current with the news.
“I’m scrambling to update Budget Hero to reflect the Gang of Six deficit-reduction proposal,” writes the game’s creator Andrew Haeg over on Google+ (and a hat tip to Dominick Brady for connecting me to the connection that connected me to Andrew).
Newgames are an interesting hybrid that we’re starting to track. Some think it’s the next great journo innovation. Others are deeply skeptical.
To track the ideas, we just set up a form for people to submit articles and resources to. It’s only been about an hour but some results are starting to come in.