During this coronavirus isolation period, you’ve decided to take a break from all the hard studying you’ve been doing. Why not kill some time playing a video game?
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Better yet, why not spend some time playing a video game that will help you learn more about business and economics in the real world? Does it seem too good to be true? Lucky for us, there are games that do just that.
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This classic business simulation game and its well-reviewed follow-up, Capitalism II, let you live out your wildest dream of running the most successful business in the world. As CEO, you’ll have to make sure the company doesn’t go bankrupt, fight off competitors, and don’t get bought out. Even though the beginning of the game isn’t very realistic (you can start your journey with two hundred million dollars if you want), it gives you an idea of how to start a new business by simulating markets and the tough world of business in a way that’s close to real.
At the beginning of the game, you can either start from scratch or “inherit” an existing business, like an agriculture company. Most of the time, your goal will be to control a certain percentage of the market in a certain amount of time. Capitalism Plus, an expansion that came out in 1996, added random events like riots and technological breakthroughs, which made a game that was already hard to play even harder. (The game is considered to be one of the hardest games ever.) Have fun failing at your first business, because you don’t have to worry about anything.
Virtonomics is one of two business simulation games on our list. It is used in schools and colleges to teach students about how business markets work. This massively multiplayer online game, of which Virtonomics has made several versions (Entrepreneur, Business War, and the original), is both fun and educational. It is similar to Capitalism, which is also recommended in this article, in that it simulates how a business is built in a competitive environment.
The turn-based game has completely open-ended gameplay, and you can play for as long as you want (though we don’t recommend it). You can compete against other players and the computer, and you can choose any market you want: agriculture, retail, marketing, etc. Students can also get a discount on Virtonomics as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts. What better way to spend your time stuck inside than to learn more about business and economics at the same time?
This game was a huge success. It was the sequel to Sierra’s well-known Caesar, and it added new features to Impressions Games’ complex city-building interface. In this game, players take charge of ancient Egyptian societies and try to keep their people happy while making enough raw materials to trade and improve their workers’ living conditions. Battles are fought in real time, and you can use archers, soldiers, or naval ships. Many missions require building monuments, like the legendary pyramid.
The tough money system will be especially interesting to economists. You can go into debt to build your city, but each year you stay in debt lowers your Kingdom Standing. If your Kingdom Standing drops too low, the Pharaoh will send his troops to destroy all your hard work. On some levels, you can make money by mining gold deposits, but these are often in bad places. If your city doesn’t have these, you’ll have to make things like beer and pottery, open trade routes, and hope that droughts and floods don’t stop you from selling your goods. A complicated and hard game that will make you angry for hours (and hopefully a bit of fun, too).
One of the most popular city-building games ever was made to compete with SimCity, but SimCity failed, making room for this game. It showed how to build a big city from a small plot of land in a way that was both complicated and easy to understand. You’ll start with a small budget and a small plot of land. You’ll have to turn your plot into a village, a town, and a city, and the goal is to make a city as big as New York, if you’re good enough. As you play the game, you’ll gain access to new buildings and features, and you’ll also be able to divide the city into districts. Along the way, you’ll need to hire people and give them jobs. This will bring in money, which you can use to improve the city, and so on.
In the end, the city becomes very complicated, with ways to get from one end to the other, different types of roads to cut down on noise pollution, the ability to force certain districts to only have one kind of industry (like agriculture), and much more. Using your economic knowledge and architectural and design skills, you’ll be able to manage your city’s finances and mix building the city’s infrastructure with budget and economic planning, until your city runs like a well-oiled machine.
Theme Park World
After the success of Theme Park, you can now build your own theme park with Theme Park World. The player is in charge of a fairly simple business model: grow the park, look into new attractions, keep making money, and win keys that let you access new levels and rides. You’ll also have to hire people to keep the parks running, like cleaners, mechanics, entertainers, and security guards. All of these jobs are important to keep visitors happy, stop theft and other crimes, keep the park clean, and make sure none of the rides break down.
Once you’ve made enough money, you can start to improve your rides and train your staff, which will make the rides more fun and the staff more efficient. And once you’ve done all that and your rides pay for themselves, you can use the in-game currency of Golden Tickets to switch to first-person mode and walk around your own park, even riding some of the rides you made yourself.
Port Royale 4
Port Royale 4 is the latest in a long line of serious business simulations. In it, you run a trading company in the Caribbean at the height of European colonisation in the area. You start with one ship and have to go from port to port, trading wisely and staying away from pirates.
As your wealth and reputation grow, you can take on charters for whole towns and build a fleet of trading ships and warships to rule the whole Caribbean. Most of your time will be spent serving your home country, which could be England, France, or Spain. However, if you get strong enough, you can become truly independent, as long as you survive the independence war that comes next.