In the Loop

Do have what it takes to be a 'Budget Hero?'

Posted at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2008 by Jeff Horwich

Our hardworking friends at Public Insight Journalism have just released their most massive online game project yet. It's safe to say online game concepts don't come much meatier than balancing the federal budget.

bhero.jpgWhile I believe it is available as a widget that will probably appear on multiple sites around the web, for starters the Budget Hero game has established an outpost on the Marketplace web site.

Sure, I've got a slight personal interest in the project (um...whose voice is that in the tutorial?). But I'm pleased to be tangentially attached to something that really did turn out great, considering the incredible ambition of building an interactive game around something so complex.

At times, I'm a little thrown by the simplifications that had to made to tame this beast of an idea. But that's part of the necessity of a project like this: No sane human being who isn't justly compensated would want to contend with the true vastness of the federal budget.

This allows people to engage with the concepts and trade-offs -- built from the actual budget numbers and forecasts, to be sure -- and get a sense of how truly difficult the process is. That's especially true if you remain true to your values (the "badges" you are asked to choose at the start of the game) rather than just hue to fiscal discipline.

It's a good eye-opener for an election year. Give it a whirl.

What do you think? You can comment on the game on the page where it resides at Marketplace, on Gather.com, or -- if you like -- right here.

May 2008
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