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Subject: opportunity cost and games? rss

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Chris
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I remember Tom Lehmann talking about opportunity cost in his games (I think here, https://youtu.be/gcoqmgPqIR8?t=49m30s).

Does anyone know of good resources to introduce opportunity cost to students? This will be for a game analysis and design class that I teach.

Thanks in advance.
 
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Kyle
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Any decision where you need to move between 2 things and the cost is not real is an opportunity cost, the majority of games have them.
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LetsGetTrivial wrote:
I remember Tom Lehmann talking about opportunity cost in his games (I think here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcoqmgPqIR8).

Does anyone know of good resources to introduce opportunity cost to students? This will be for a game analysis and design class that I teach.

Thanks in advance.


Intro to econ class materials?
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Chris
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darthhugo wrote:
Intro to econ class materials?

Thought about it, but hoping that there are materials with gaming examples.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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I think a definition and a general example will go pretty far. If you want to get into a specific example that might be interesting, then here ya go:

You have the following materials: A, B, C, D. There are three options that are available to build.

Option 1: Build X using A, B, C for 11 points
Option 2: Build Y using A, C for 7 points
Option 3: Build Z using B, D for 8 points

You can discuss the opportunity cost of Option 1 as that precludes you from building 2 & 3, at least in the immediate future, and vice versa.

There are some interesting possibilities here depending on how many other players can also build these immediately, how long it would take other players to get the resources/actions needed to build these, how long it would take you to get more resources, and thus how likely it is that you could build more than one of these.
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Christopher Wionzek
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For a fairly simple game that has reasonable opportunity cost, and very visibly so, I'd say Lords of Waterdeep.

Any space you put a worker on is immediately an opportunity cost. You're choosing to get this thing over that thing, and by the time it comes around to your turn again someone else may have taken that second spot.

Even completing quests is the same. All quests generally use the same subset of resources, so any quest you complete is taking away from your ability to complete other ones. So do you want the reward from this quest, or that quest?

Pretty much all worker placement games are about opportunity cost and choosing how important doing X before Y is, but Lords of Waterdeep kind of tackles it at both ends with both the gathering resources and the cashing-in for quests.

Plus it's a pretty accessible game to non-gamers. Go here, you get the thing. Spend things to complete quest and get points. No obfuscated production chain between gathering and cashing-out.
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Chris B
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Thunkd wrote:

You have the following materials: A, B, C, D. There are three options that are available to build.

Option 1: Build X using A, B, C for 11 points
Option 2: Build Y using A, C for 7 points
Option 3: Build Z using B, D for 8 points

You can discuss the opportunity cost of Option 1 as that precludes you from building 2 & 3, at least in the immediate future, and vice versa.


That description made me think immediately of Splendor. Many Eurogames that involve engine building and/or trading in the Mediterranean would probably be good options.
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Humulus Lupulus
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For economic education purposes, I'd say a good type of opportunity cost in the gaming environment is doing something now for a short term reward vs waiting and doing something later for a longer, more lasting benefit.

I can't think of a really good game example, but I'm sure there are some. Of the top of my head, I can think of perhaps Le Havre and spending resources (and energy) to build a ship (the long term benefit of a continuous food supply) vs the opportunity cost of taking another action such as constructing a building or taking an offer of food (the short term decision).

Edit: For a simpler game, there is Jaipur. Here, there is the opportunity cost in whether to trade in a smaller set of goods now for a higher value reward before your opponent beats you to it, or waiting for a larger set of goods to get bonus points. There's also a good opportunity cost introduced with whether or not to spend camels to trade for goods.

I'm not even sure you're asking for game recommendations or more for other media resources.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Desiderata wrote:
For economic education purposes, I'd say a good type of opportunity cost in the gaming environment is doing something now for a short term reward vs waiting and doing something later for a longer, more lasting benefit.

I can't think of a really good game example, but I'm sure there are some.
In Splendor, cards that give you points generally cost more gems than cards which don't. Both point cards and non-point cards give you virtual gems which increase your ability to buy cards.

You'll often forgo getting early point cards so that you can buy cheaper cards. Buying cheaper cards means you're not getting points, but you're getting more cards, and thus more virtual gems. If the game goes long enough, then having extra virtual gems will give you a purchasing advantage over a player with fewer cards. You'll be able to buy many point cards quickly late in the game, while a player who hasn't invested in a purchasing advantage can't keep pace with you. They may have gotten early points, but your ability to get expensive cards mostly with virtual gems means you can catch up quickly and then pass them for the win.

Alternatively, someone maybe able to concentrate on only buying expensive point cards and make a mad dash for 15 points before their opponents card engine kicks in. (Often that depends on whether the card engine can player can manage to snag the noble bonuses or not. Whether the card tableau clogs with the wrong colors, or if multiple other players are competing for nobles can make a huge difference.) While the card engine player has more virtual gems, they may not be able to convert that advantage into points before the player with the early point lead is able to reach 15 points.

The opportunity cost of building a card engine is that you won't be buying points... and vice versa. Which is better depends on how long you think the game will go, what other players are doing and a bit of luck.
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Jordan Booth
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Dragoonkin wrote:
For a fairly simple game that has reasonable opportunity cost, and very visibly so, I'd say Lords of Waterdeep.

Another way Waterdeep directly illustrates opportunity cost is by limiting quest completion to once per turn. So even if you have all of the resources to complete multiple quests you have to choose which gets priority, then you have to wait a turn while everyone else has a chance to steal resources from you or play a mandatory quest.
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Chris
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Desiderata wrote:
I'm not even sure you're asking for game recommendations or more for other media resources.

Other media, like articles explaining the concept.
 
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Dan Lokemoen
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Dragoonkin wrote:
.. I'd say Lords of Waterdeep.


The "lose a turn" cards in Waterdeep make it a bad game, and obfuscate the opportunity cost aspect for those not already familiar with the concept.

Honestly, I think "opportunity cost" is just a way of saying "making a decision." You go to college and you learn a lot, but you miss out on many of the things you could have experienced at a different school, or in the military, or traveling, or getting a job, or starting your own business instead of going to school, etc.

You buy a sporty car that you like and you can't afford to also get the benefits of a more practical vehicle.

Everything you do is a choice to not do something else. Examples are endless.
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Freelance Police
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YourHighnessness wrote:
Honestly, I think "opportunity cost" is just a way of saying "making a decision." You go to college and you learn a lot, but you miss out on many of the things you could have experienced at a different school, or in the military, or traveling, or getting a job, or starting your own business instead of going to school, etc.


Same ditto. Most Eurogames have some sort of opportunity cost, so show the one which is easiest to understand.

I say this because older Ameritrash games typically let players do one of each action ("draw then make an obvious decision") while Eurogames typically make players choose one of several different actions that must be weighed against each other to maximize gaining points ("where's the best place to place my town in Settlers?").
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Chris
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YourHighnessness wrote:
Everything you do is a choice to not do something else. Examples are endless.

I do not disagree, but you would be surprised how little actual choice students give when creating their own games.
 
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Pas L
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A better example of opportunity cost for learning the concept would probably be a game where doing something stops you from doing something else, ever, in that game.

I know that it's not a full understanding of the concept, but it might make it clearer for younger people.

Ie: a card that can be used once, but could be used to do two things. Cards in Clash of Civilizations are like this.
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Travis Lilley
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Agricola?
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Ess Why
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I think Tokaido presents interesting choices. Do you go more slowly to get more turns or go out for the spaces which may be more desirable?
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I would just set up examples such as:

1) Pay $2 for 2 VP, or $4 for 3 VP
Even though the former's the better bang for your buck, a game can only have X turns, so it behooves you to be inefficient if it means maximizing your score, and assuming the $ won't be needed for anything else

2) In Race for the Galaxy, cards that give discounts aren't that great towards the end of the game. It's better to switch over to getting more points, and just pay for stuff without the discount, especially if the game will end in 1 to 3 rounds, and there may not be any Develop or Settle phases left.

tel0004 wrote:
Agricola?
Might be too monster of a game, but yeah..
3) turning in a regular cooking place to get an improved cooking place may cost less resources, but you had to spend an extra worker to get it, which you may have been better off just paying more directly for the improved cooking place.
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