“Flappy Bird” Demand

"Flappy Bird," a popular mobile game, was taken down by its creator over the weekend. From CNN.com:

"Flappy Bird" has flown the coop.

The addictive game that soared to the top of iPhone and Android app downloads disappeared from app stores on Sunday, though players who already have it apparently can keep on flying.

...Although new players can no longer download "Flappy Bird," the game remains playable for those who had already added it to their devices.

A secondary market has emerged yesterday, with entrepreneurs willing to part with their "Flappy Bird" installed mobile devices -- for some pretty high prices:

Fantasy Football For Econ Nerds

Christian Zimmerman of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has created the ultimate game for econ nerds: the RePEc Fantasy Economic league.  "The IDEAS fantasy league allows you to pretend you are at the helm of an economics department," explains the league's website. "Your goal is to improve its ranking relative to other departments in the league. You can do this by trading economists and by choosing which ones to activate in your roster."  A Business Insider article explores optimal strategy:

"In real life when you build a department, you want to hire people that are prospects," Zimmermann said. "In this fantasy league, it's just the same. You really want to acquire people that are going to be doing well in the next 10 years."

In other words, you want the sleeper picks. Ask yourself: Who is going to cost 1 util and then put out some game-changing working papers?

Edwards agrees that you have to look for the rising stars. "It's a Moneyball type strategy," he said. "Looking for undervalued economists and trying to invest, or trying to divest in overvalued economists." 

What Do You Have to Say about "Trophy Inflation" and "Gamification"?

An interesting e-mail from a reader/listener named Andrei Herasimchuk about what he calls "gamification": 

It's a word and term that drives me nuts these days. I design software, and have done so for two decades now. Everyone is trying to add gamification features to their products these days in the tech industry. Think badges, achievements, and things normally found in a game like World of Warcraft. People in this industry lately seem to believe that these sorts of things drive engagement in their products. From everything I've seen, and from influences of your work, I'd assume what people really want to do is find ways to design incentives into products. Incentives versus Gamification? What works better?

Andrei (and I) would love to hear what you have to say on this question. I have a few superficial thoughts:

Was Freakonomics a Jeopardy Answer Last Night?

I am told it is true but haven't yet seen evidence.

UK Game Show Golden Balls: A New Solution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Several years ago, Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Joel Waldfogel and Matthew W. White, published a fascinating empirical article about the prisoner’s dilemma game embedded in the short-lived U.S. game show “Friend or Foe.”  Their core findings:

Using data from two seasons of a television game show, we provide evidence about how individuals implement conditionally cooperative preferences. We show that (1) contestants forgo large sums of money to be cooperative, (2) players cooperate at heightened levels when their opponents are predictably cooperative, and (3) players whose observable characteristics predict less cooperation fare worse (monetarily) over time, as opponents avoid cooperating with them. 

I always thought it might be nice to update the study to test to see whether different kinds of “cheap talk” were more or less effective in establishing cooperation.

The Economic Behavior of 12 Year-Olds

Do children behave like adults? Do they make economic decisions the same way we do?

That's what German economist Martin Kocher has set out to determine. He's collecting data to measure the utility curves of kids from 7-18 years old, in order to draw some conclusions about children’s attitudes toward risk, time and trust. Playing simple economic games, such as the ultimatum game and various public good games, he measured their risk and time preferences. The experiments were conducted with real money, because "incentivizing kids with money makes it a real decision for them" says Kocher.

Why Isn't Backgammon More Popular?

Levitt and I just recorded a Q&A session for the Freakonomics Radio podcast, using the questions that all of you recently submitted. You'll hear the results soon, probably in January. Thanks for the good questions.

One question we didn't get to, from Tg3:

I have heard Dubner casually mention that he is a backgammon player. Are there ever Levitt vs. Dubner battles? More importantly, why is such a great game not more popular in North America?

An Economist Plays Monopoly

A few days ago, I appeared on NPR Morning Edition talking about Monopoly (the game, not the market form). Until then I hadn't thought much about the economics of the game (which I played very often as a child, with our sons and for the past five years with our grandchildren).

When Statisticians Stink at Darts

What was Stanford statistics student Ryan Tibshirani to do when his buddies kept beating him at darts?

Pay What You Can Afford?

The makers of World of Goo, a “physics-based puzzle game,” let customers pay what they wanted for the game — which normally sells at $20 — and a week after the offer, 57,000 people bought the game, bringing in over $100,000 in sales.