With only eight days until the budget super committee's Thanksgiving deadline, and little sign of progress toward its US$1.2 trillion in budget savings, ordinary Americans have been trying to balance the budget - playing a new game, Budget Hero, over 1,000,000 times.
The interactive "serious game" challenges Americans from every part of the political spectrum to balance the federal budget. In so doing it provides a tool for bringing ordinary citizens into the debate over the federal budget, highlighting their budget priorities to policymakers, and giving them a look at the priorities of others and the genuine difficulty of balancing the budget without making real sacrifices.
This week, the students of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and a group of high school students from Pasadena will race to balance the budget in a day. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal will moderate a discussion with the high school students at the Pasadena event, being held at Southern California Public Radio's KPCC studios. "Budget Hero is filled with tough choices that engage players in the daunting task facing the Super Committee," Ryssdal said. "The cuts needed to save over a trillion dollars require serious compromise. They're about to learn how hard it is to reconcile political philosophy with the choices that are going to be necessary to win this game."
Earlier this week David Rejeski, Director of the Science and Technology Inovation Program spoke with KGO Morning News about Budget Hero. One of the original goals for the game was to reach young Americans with the technology of video games, Rejeski said, and now the game has been played more than 1 million times since its launch in 2008.
An engaging and fun civics lesson for the internet age, Budget Hero is already being incorporated into curriculum in schools across the nation, including the University of Louisvilleand the U.S. Naval Academy.
Watch Budget Hero at University of Louisville.
And watch the launch of Budget Hero 2.0 here.
One teacher from New York City called Budget Hero "the BEST tool that I could give [my students] to help them to understand economic and political issues."
The game, developed by American Public Media's Public Insight Network and The Wilson Center, makes it easy for people to compare their budget results to others and share them on Twitter and Facebook, as thousands of people have done.
The latest version of Budget Hero, which includes policy proposals by the Gang of 6 and the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction committee, can be accessed at: www.budgethero.org.