Monday, September 14, 2009

Too Big To Fail

This is a prototype created for September's Experimental Gameplay Project. The theme this month was "Failure". If you're not familiar with the EGP, I highly recommend that you click the link there and read about it; it really is a fantastic idea.

In accordance with this month's theme of failure, the game that I have created is called "Too Big To Fail", and it's a game that puts you, in an admittedly abstract way, into the shoes of a major investment banker on the eve of the financial collapse that occurred in 2008.

In the game, you are represented by the yellowish circle with the dollar sign in it. You provide loans by moving over top of any of the other icons, which represent people who are looking for money. You can also borrow from another, larger bank yourself, which is represented by the image in the bottom corner of the screen. The goal is to build up a large amount of debt to the bigger bank while remaining financially solvent long enough that you become "too big to fail", at which point the government will bail you out to help save the bigger bank and your connections in the banking industry. The game fits September's theme because the goal is to fail by as huge a margin as possible - remaining financially solvent or failing but not owing much money are both considered to be not good enough.

Download the game here
NOTE: The game was created using Microsoft's XNA, so it will unfortunately only run on Windows computers. It also requires the XNA framework, which the game automatically detects and offers to install if you don't have it.

Movement - arrow keys
Take a loan out from 1st National - press the space bar when next to the bank

The different images represent different types of loans you can make.
Green hedge-y looking thing - represents hedge funds
Black coin-y looking thing - represents shadow bankers
Houses - represent mortgage-backed securities
Smiling face - represents regular people who want to borrow

Lending to regular people is relatively low-risk, while lending to the others leads to higher potential returns, but also higher potential failures. The high risk borrowers also borrow larger amounts of money from you. You'll probably need to borrow from 1st National to fuel your loans to the riskier borrowers.

At regular intervals the people who you've lent out money to will pay it back with interest. This is represented by a black dollar amount displayed above your reserves. Sometimes people you've made loans to will not be able to pay them back, and you'll lose that money. This is represented by a red dollar amount displayed above the loans you've made. 1st National will also call in some of its loans to you at a regular interval. This is displayed as a green dollar amount above the money you owe.

As time goes on, the risk of those who have borrowed from you defaulting on their loans goes up. At the same time, 1st National starts having financial difficulties and starts calling in more of its loans from you, so you need to maintain a higher balance to avoid going out of business before you become too big to fail.

The game lasts about two minutes before the markets completely collapse and the government finally decides whether or not you fit the bill as an institution which is "Too Big To Fail." Have fun!

I hereby release this game and all related assets into the public domain. Do with it what you will.