Thursday, December 16, 2010

SimNation Under the Tree

In 1989, SimCity, a city-building simulation computer game, was released. The point of the game was to get the player to design and create a city by adding buildings, creating power grids, establishing transportation systems, adjusting the tax rate, zoning property, and more. The player could expect to encounter a number of calamities like floods, earthquakes, plane crashes, fires, and more. In some cases, these disastrous occurrences could generate other hardships that the player had to deal with.

As the player played, he or she needed to establish a tax basis, a zoning plan for the kind of growth that would encourage and support production and consumption, and make growth decisions his city could afford to purchase and maintain.

In light of the budget and spending battle underway in the Congress, it occurred to me that it would be great if there was a simulation our Congressmen could plug their proposals into to see what exactly they should expect in the way of outcomes of all of this spending they seem to love. If I was a game designer, I'd create that game and call it SimNation. Congressmen could plug in a set of beginning parameters: the GDP, inflation rate, unemployment rate, and so on. Then, he or she would plug in their budget values and see how it plays out. If the Congressman overspends, they can watch the budget deficit add to the national debt and watch it go through the roof. Or they might get concerned they'd lose the game and make better spending decisions.

I don't know if there's enough logic in the universe to make that kind of game work. Even if Congressmen won't be finding a SimNation under the tree this Christmas, I would really like to start the new year in the belief our our representatives will begin to game their decisions out so our kids and grandkids don't get stuck with it all they've been creating.