The Wilson Center and Brooking Institution have launched a new “serious game” called The Fiscal Ship. The game puts players in charge of the federal budget and provides a structure for taking on the daunting task of putting the nation’s economic books in order. One of the game’s designers, Eric Church, joins Wilson Center NOW to discuss the learning potential associated with playing serious games. Think you have what it takes to fix the debt problem? Can you fund priorities while keeping America solvent? Find out by playing The Fiscal Ship:


Eric Church, a game designer and project associate at the Serious Games Initiative at the Wilson Center, focuses on using games to advance policy discussions. He sees games as a tool to explore the systems that drive complex problems and as a way for players to see those problems through different viewpoints. Prior to joining the Serious Games Initiative, Church worked as a game designer in serious and entertainment games. From 2007 to 2015, he was a lead designer at serious game developer BreakAway Games. At BreakAway he designed games and simulations in an array of different domains, including a set of simulations and games to assess competency in occupational therapy for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy; a simulation of the Southwestern Border for the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Border initiative; a multiplayer counterinsurgency simulation for the Department of Defense; and a Serious Play Silver Medal winning sales training game for eyeglass lens provider Essilor. Before working in serious games, Church was a designer of entertainment games for major publishers. He led the design teams for games that sold millions of copies and received multiple awards including: Medal of Honor (1999), Medal of Honor: Underground (2000), Medal of Honor: Frontline (2002), and Call of Duty: Finest Hour (2004). In 2002, Church co-founded Independent game studio Spark Unlimited. Prior to founding Spark Unlimited, he worked at Electronic Arts, DreamWorks Interactive, and a number of smaller studios.

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.