The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

The Sociology of Swindle

I’ve been idly thinking … what does Greed say about the times (more accurately, our view of the times). If anything, it strikes me as a more cynical than how we view the Robber Barons. We’re inclined to romanticize the past, but I don’t think we apply that to the industrial magnates … still, compare 1830 to Greed.

1830 — Ruthless capitalists out to make more money. Greed — Money is just an end to having the most toys.

1830 — CEOs actually have responsibilities. Run a company into the ground and you have to buy a train out of pocket (or dump it on a sucker). Destroy a company in greed, and it just folds. Bankruptcy means something in 1830 (and ends the game) but in Greed, it just happens. No big deal.

1830 — Robber barons ruthlessly compete against each other, and woe betide the innocent stockholder caught in the middle. Greed — Executives actively trade to loot companies, and collaborate with each other (against the stockholder).

1830 — Competence rewarded. You can win by guiding a company through to massive growth and keeping control the entire game. Greed — Incompetence rewarded. You have to get fired (with a severance) to win. You can’t win with a single company. [The game play itself rewards competence … you have to very carefully mismanage your finances to ensure you can loot a lot of cash].

I get that Greed is a cynical game, but it’s a pretty stunning indictment of crony capitalism that makes Robber Barons look noble.

Bonus Observation — In 1830 you actively manage something that can be measured and evaluated (your tracks and trains), whereas in Greed you trade abstract assets and products, including “Blah Blah” (which symbolizes various dotcom type ideas). Welcome to the knowledge economy.

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Written by taogaming

May 30, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Ramblings

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One Response

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  1. Don’t forget the new game Power Struggle, in which the lower the employee motivation is, the more you can accomplish. Cynacism seems to be alive and well in the business games of today.

    Larry Levy

    May 30, 2010 at 11:32 pm


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