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Posts Tagged ‘games’

“Flappy Bird” Demand

“Flappy Bird,” a popular mobile game, was taken down by its creator over the weekend. From

“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:

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).

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.

Play Your Video Games!

The article profiles Quest to Learn, a new school in New York that will teach exclusively with video games. At Quest to Learn, “children learn by doing — and do so in a way that tears up the usual subject-based curriculum altogether.” This fall, for example, students will spend time as ancient Spartans and learn about history, geography, and public policy.

Calling All Blog Readers (Actually, Only the Smart, Creative, and Hardworking Ones)

My sister Linda is the one who came up with the title Freakonomics for our first book. Probably because of that, ever since she has been obsessed with trying to, in marketing lingo, “extend the Freakonomics brand.” Her first idea was the Freakonomics t-shirt. “Everybody will want one of these,” she said. Somehow, even though millions of people were willing . . .

Man vs. Machine on Jeopardy

IBM researchers are hard at work creating a computer that will match wits against humans on the television show Jeopardy. Compared to checkers, chess, or backgammon, playing Jeopardy would seem to be a hard task for a computer because language is such a fundamental part of answering the questions correctly.

The Lure of Homeless Sims

Usually, your goal in The Sims 3 is to create a character and have it live out a pleasant, socially successful life in a well-appointed home. Robin Burkinshaw‘s Sims live in a weedy park at the center of town, broke, friendless, and looking for love. Burkinshaw chronicles the lives of this homeless family on a highly readable blog.

Fantasy Stocks

For those who are still too scared to invest in the stock market, you can buy some imaginary stock at UpDown, a “practice investing” site that simulates the stock market and lists real-life companies without meting out real-life consequences.

How Life Has Changed

I played Life with some grandkids today, a much revised game from what we played with our kids. The paychecks you receive as you move along the board are taxed at a constant marginal tax rate of 50 percent, with an exemption of $10,000 of income.


| Did this German invent the perfect board game? Wired has the story of The Settlers of Catan, one of the most popular new board games in Europe and, now, the U.S. Why is it so popular? For one, instead of having you conquer or bankrupt your friends and family, Catan makes you cooperate with them in a tabletop free-market . . .

Treasury Hero

The details are tedious and inscrutable. There’s often no obvious link between cause and effect. It will drag on probably twice as long as you want it to.
These are just a few of the ways The Bailout Game mirrors our dreary market slowdown.


I can’t help but wonder how many urban planners were inspired to enter the profession by computer games like SimCity or Railroad Tycoon. I can’t help but admit to spending a few hours (O.K., more than a few) blasting virtual tunnels through the Rockies and rebuilding Tokyo after those annoying SimCity Godzilla attacks.

The "Guitar Hero" Answers Your Questions

Last month we solicited your questions for Alex Rigopulos, co-founder of Harmonix, the video-game development company best known for its Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. Alex Rigopulos One of the most-asked questions was whether his games discourage players from learning to play real music. Rigopulos doesn’t think so; the games, he says, give people “a taste of what lies . . .

The Art of SATergy

My son took the SSAT exam this past Saturday. And while I was sitting in the Choate athletic facility waiting for him to finish, I remembered that Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff‘s new book, The Art of Strategy, has a great example concerning standardized testing. Game theory is so powerful it can help you figure out the correct answer without . . .

An All-Pay Auction

Martin Shubik invented a famous game-theory exercise, sometimes called “the dollar auction,” where a teacher auctions off a $20 bill to the highest bidder. Bids have to be in round dollar amounts, but the twist is that both the highest and the second-highest bidder have to pay. When uninitiated students start to play this game, someone rushes to bid $3 . . .

The Price of Disgust

So the bailout proposal before Congress seems to have been rejected because legislators were worried that voters back home saw it as a bailout of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. Is such a fear rational? It may be that voters simply don’t understand or believe that a broader Wall Street failure could quickly trickle down and harm . . .

The Winner of Our Prisoner’s Dilemma Contest Is …

We ran a contest asking readers to submit the one question they’d ask to help pick a partner for the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Then we had a special treat: the University of Chicago economist John List (whose writings, by the way, were the inspiration for the contest) agreed to comb through the 350+ entries and choose the Top 5. He did . . .

Vote Now on the Prisoner’s Dilemma Contest

We recently posted a contest, asking readers to choose the one question they’d ask if picking a partner to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma. I did not expect this contest to generate more than 350 replies. Picking the single best out of 350 seemed impossible, so I thought we should winnow it down to the Top 5 and ask you to . . .

Budget Hero

Screen Shot from the Marketplace Web site. It’s next to impossible to find an economist who will support a gas tax holiday, but cutting the gas tax altogether is an option in Budget Hero, a surprisingly entertaining online game that puts you in charge of balancing the federal budget. Based on budget models from the Congressional Budget Office, Budget Hero . . .

Prisoner’s Dilemma Contest: What’s the One Question You’d Ask If …

I’ve been reading through some economics literature on fairness, altruism, and the like — much of it centered on game-playing that is meant to represent how we make decisions in the real world. One common early game was an adaptation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Here, courtesy of Wikipedia (excerpted from this book, I think), is a description of the Prisoner’s . . .

Place Your Stock Bets Here

At its heart, Inspectd is a simple game: it shows you a chart of historical data on a random stock, asks you to bet on whether the stock’s price will rise or fall, and then immediately tells you if you won or lost — with another performance chart showing you why. And maybe that instant gratification is what makes this . . .

Indexed: Toys & Games

After publishing quite a number of Jessica Hagy‘s Indexed pieces on this blog, and viewing many more on her own site, I have finally figured out how to optimize the reading experience: look at the diagrams while covering up her caption with your hand, and then try to guess what she’s getting at. To my mind, this is at least . . .