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November 15, 2007

Just A Game?

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Just a Game?

Earlier this month in Washington D.C., former government officials and cabinet members sat around a table to discuss our nation's reliance on oil. But they didn't show PowerPoint slides - they played a game. The simulation is called Oil ShockWave, and enacts what might happen in an actual oil crisis.

Gene Sperling, former economic advisor to President Clinton, played the role of secretary of the Treasury. He says the main lesson of the game is that people in politics should act now - once a crisis hits, there is little government officials can do

In the spring, Ken Ecklund ran a similar simulation - this one designed to see how regular people might react. For just over a month, Ken, a group of colleagues and 1,800 players simulated 32 weeks in an oil shock.

As prices escalated from $4 to $5 to $7 a gallon, people reported on what was happening in different communities. High diesel prices slowed the trucking industry, resulting in a shortage of food and medicines. So many people took to riding bikes there was a rise in bike theft. Eventually, the furthest suburbs became lifeless and lawless - and then, as demand for oil went down, gas prices dropped, and people returned to their cars. 

Shoplifting season

In 1998, Emily Bobrow had just graduated from college and wanted to make her mark on the world. So she moved to London with unformed dreams of cultural stardom leading her on.She was lonely, and one day at a clothing store, she put some socks in her bag and left without paying. She found it exhilarating and continued pilfering items from various stores until the inevitable happened and she got caught.

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