The Car Game 2.0 was played on the Social Systems Course on December 13, 2012. The group was divided into Consumers (18 people) and Producers (4 croups of 2 people). The academic purpose of the game was to visualize the evolution of a product i.e. the car, when stakeholders involved in an organizational field i.e. the car industry, pushed towards their interests and interacted with other actors through different coordination mechanisms i.e. self-organization, government. To my point of view, the game did illustrate the car evolution, mainly because it was based in simple rules that allowed freedom to the actors. Throughout the game most cars evolved into being more durable (Increased durability), while they also displayed variety regarding luxury or reduction of CO2 emissions.
Some weaknesses came to float once the game was played for several rounds. Some of these weaknesses were, to my point of view, superficial, i.e more logistics towards money flows; while others affected the game in a more profound way i.e. Producers started to create new out-of-the- box car arrangements to increase their sales. If some of these weaknesses were to be “improved” other game dynamics would appear, rendering novel results on car evolution. Only by playing we will see if one can still visualize the evolution of the car in a clear, realistic manner.
It is important to point out that while being a player in the game, one could be aware of the structure and dynamics of the whole game, because in some rounds there was some information-sharing of different actors, but the knowledge was limited. With this I want to say that the Game 2.0 will be reconstructed for the purpose of localizing its weak points and making some suggestions for improvement, but the reconstruction of the game will be based solely on the “instruction sheet” and the limited information about the dynamics of the whole game.
The recreation of main parts of the Game will be used to understand the weak points and to suggest possible improvements.
Car Game 2.0, Re-creation
18 Consumers with $500/each
4 Producers with $8,000/each
1 Government with $5,000/each
1 Bank with the rest of the money
Actor (round number)
Bank (0) → Consumers (0) → Producers (0) → Bank(0)
Round 1 (with Government)
Bank (1) → Consumers (1) → Producers (1) → Bank(1)
Government (1) → Consumers (1) [Buying information]
Producers (1) → Government (1) [Through taxes]
After a few rounds the money started accumulating in the Consumers and in a less extent in the Producers, also the Government started to suffer money shortage.
Producers sold standard cars with four different types of added characteristics.
As rounds passed Producers started to rely more on additional arrangements other than this “added characteristics” in order to gain competitive advantage. Some of this additional arrangements fell into the permitted game rules i.e. such as loans, or, promotions; while other didn’t i.e. additional cost-free characteristics.
There was a tendency among Consumers to buy Increased durability cars while Reductions CO2 and Safety Increase were the least popular.
Theories, Weaknesses and Proposed improvements
The government has a starting budget of $ 5,000, which was used throughout the rounds to pay for information to the consumers. In the game played there were 18 consumers, each with a hypothetical car during each round. This would mean that the government would pay $1,800 per information-gathering session. If the government wants to ask for information on every two rounds (close to what was seen in the game), this means that the government should have a round-income of at least $900.
Through my perspective this doesn’t sound possible relying solely on taxes placed on producers to make cars with increased safety or reduced CO2 emissions. An additional small tax placed on standard cars ($50) could place the government in a safe position, while still depending on “punishment-taxes” for survival-income.
As mentioned before there was a tendency among Consumers to buy Increased durability cars while Reductions CO2 and Safety Increase were the least popular. Through a “consumers eyes” the only added characteristic that saved money throughout the rounds was the “Increased durability”. Amongst all the transportation options consumers had, the cheapest was to buy an “Increased durability” car. With this option it was possible to satisfy your transportation needs while still saving some money. This strategy (attractive to many Consumers) could partially explain why money was piling up at the Consumers end. This theory could also explain why at the last round there were many Consumers which had enough money to buy cars with many (>3) added characteristics.
To balance the game and give a strategic value to other “added characteristics” some luck could be added to the game. In each round, a aleatory paper could be drawn from a pile. This papers would represent external events that would affect the car-consumers, specifically attacking one of the “added characteristics”. For example, in one round one paper could say “there is a car crash and all the consumers without safe cars were the most injured. They should pay X amount to cover hospital fees”. This external, aleatory events would place more value to the other “added characteristics”. It would also increase money flows from the consumers to the bank, in an attempt to re-mediate the problem of money being piled up at the consumers end.
As rounds passed Producers started to rely more on additional arrangements other than this “added characteristics” in order to gain competitive advantage. The “additional characteristics” where the producers resources and means to obtain more (or sufficient) sales. According to Stuarts Hart paper on “A natural-Resource-Based view of the firm”, in order for resources to contribute to a firms competitive advantage they should be rare and/or specific to a given firm (among other characteristics). Due to the fact that these “additional characteristics” were not rare or specific, producers started relying more on additional arrangements to gain sales.
In order to make resources a bit more costly to acquire by the Producers the “additional characteristics” could be sold in tandem, valid for three or four cars. This would make the “additional characteristic” appear more like an investment and would lead to producers to be differentiated by their specific “additional characteristic”.
This three Game solutions where though of as the simplest way to improve the weaknesses of the game, although they are also increase the complexity of it.