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The Serious Games Initiative (SGI) was founded with one goal: to use games to engage the broader public in policy discourse. As a dominant form of media used by the average American, games are not only ubiquitous but powerful. Games have the power to make complex ideas accessible, allowing a direct experience to work through the intricacies of policy problems and learn from the experience. It is one thing to read about the potential impact of policy solutions; it is another to live it. Since its founding, SGI has been a leader in the field of serious games, serving as a nexus between key stakeholders in a wide range of sectors, from education to government, students to tech leaders, who are interested in the positive use of games. SGI not only develops games as a dynamic technology to communicate cutting edge research at the Wilson Center and beyond but create cutting-edge research to illustrate the power of games.

Current Projects

  • Fiscal Ship: In collaboration with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institute, this game challenges players to steer the nation out of debt while adhering to their values
  • The Plastic Pipeline: The Wilson Center's China Environment Forum and Serious Games Initiative are currently developing an educational digital game: The Plastic Pipeline. The game will raise public awareness on the plastic product lifecycle and policies, as well as highlight consumer and business actions to slow plastic leakage into the ocean.  

Past projects include:


  • Budget Hero and Budget Hero 2.0: Highlighting policy objectives around the federal budget, challenging players to aim for fiscal responsibility while carrying out policy objectives.
  • Cards Against Calamity: In collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute and NOAA, this game was designed as a tool for Sea Grant teachers and for coastal communities to play and learn about how to build coastal resilience.

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