So economics really is a game after all. Two economics lecturers have found that the fastest route to an undergraduate’s brain is to use a computer game that plays out the theory of economics.

Called Playconomics, the online game sets up economic environments and allows students to interact with other agents, make economic decisions and analyse the outcomes. Students can play the game in their own time, on their own devices and can progress at their own speed.

Devised by lecturers Alberto Motta and Isabella Dobrescu from the Australian School of Business (ASB), the concept is learning by playing. “Think of it as an ebook, only gamified,” says Dr Dobrescu.

With masterly understatement, Dr Motta says: “Textbooks are not really as exciting as they could be especially for students raised in an online world.

“Playconomics plays like a video game, but also teaches like a regular textbook. It puts the student into a vibrant, simulated world, but is also very academically accurate.”

The pair was awarded the 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the use of Learning & Teaching Technologies and the Heinz Harant Award for Teaching Innovation.

Another ASB lecturer whose adaptation of technology for the classroom has won plaudits (a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Initiatives that Enhance Learning) is senior lecturer Dr Robert Tumarkin.

His innovation is credited with tackling one of the greatest threats to the integrity of university education – cheating in exams.

Read the full story in the latest issue of Uniken

Media contact: Steve Offner, UNSW Media, 02 9385 1583 

27 Game changers Playconomics