Teacher Resources

The Best In-Person Economics Games for the Classroom


Classroom games are a fun and memorable way to teach basic economic concepts. Students often don’t understand how universal the laws of economics are–until they see themselves unknowingly following those laws!

These free economics class games are some of our favorites. Most are applicable to any introductory micro, macro, or survey course at the college, high school, or even middle school level. (You could also use them to turn your next holiday dinner or cocktail party into an econ-stravaganza your family or friends won’t soon forget!)

These games require minimal props and setup. They work best in person, but with minor adaptations most will also work for remote instruction.

For a walkthrough of several games, see our professional development video Play Economics: Top 5 Games for Classrooms.

You might also like MRU’s Interactive Practices: free interactive tools that help students learn (or review) important concepts in supply and demand, inflation, trade, and more! They’re great solo-work counterparts to these group econ games.

Do you have other favorite econ class games? Please share them with us at [email protected]!

 

Dollar Auction – This game is perfect for the first day of class. Your students will be amazed as you auction off an ordinary dollar bill for more than a dollar. In the process they’ll learn about incentives and the sunk cost fallacy…and perhaps they’ll also learn not to trust an econ teacher who makes them an offer that seems too good to be true.


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Intro to Econ Unit

 

Property Rights / Tragedy of the Commons – Fisheries are a classic case of the tragedy of the commons–and a great example of how establishing social norms and property rights can avert that tragedy. This fun (and often frenetic) simulation lets your students experience the incentives of the commons first-hand, showing why resource depletion can occur even when it’s in no one’s interest. (Created by the Fraser Institute)


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Intro to Econ Unit

 

Supply and Demand Simulation – This game is a “must” for introducing market equilibrium and consumer and producer surplus. All you need to play is a deck of cards! Players take on the role of buyers and sellers with randomly determined willingness to pay and cost of production–then they try to strike deals with each other to maximize their surplus. Multiple rounds will illustrate how markets can quickly reach an efficient equilibrium.


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Supply and Demand Unit

 

Trading Game – Great to introduce a unit on international trade–or as part of a “white elephant” gift exchange during the holidays. Students will trade everyday items under varying sets of rules. This experience will teach them about the principles of voluntary exchange, preference differences, mutually beneficial exchange, and gains from trade, plus the impact of the size of the market.


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
International Trade Unit

 

Market Structure Games – Use this game to demonstrate the impact of different market structures: perfect competition, monopoly, competitive oligarchy, and collusive oligarchy. Students play the role of firms in different competitive conditions, trying to maximize returns as they sell a product. (Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Competition Video

Monopoly Video

 

Inflation Auction – If you have twice as many dollars, that means you’re richer, right? This auction game demonstrates why that intuition is wrong–when the money supply is increased, but the available goods stay the same, prices rise inevitably. Great to introduce a unit on inflation–or a history lesson on inflationary episodes like Weimar Germany. (Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Money and Inflation Unit

Monetary Policy Unit

 

Externality Game – Negative externalities–like pollution–are a common problem. But there’s usually a trade-off involved: reducing an externality often comes at some cost. This game simulates that trade-off by requiring students to maximize production (guessing words) while minimizing pollution (noise). What happens to production and externalities under different rules, like cap-and-trade? (Created by EconEdLink)


Download the Game

Related MRU Content:
Trading Pollution Video

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