How to play? Students can participate using their own mobile device or laptop in class. We also have a behavioral economics laboratory at Wichita State to conduct experiments and pay subjects real money ($5 - $50 per hour), click "Our Lab" button below and register as our subjects.
What games? Economists collect decisions made by human beings in order to understand how and why markets and other exchange systems function as they do; how people cooperate, trust, lie, or punish; how institutions and the law establish and evolve. The experimental sessions conducted to collect decision data for research and education purposes are usually referred as games. Formally, economic games use cash to motivate subjects, in order to mimic real-world incentives. In the classroom, instructors can engage students with games by providing small incentives like mugs, chocolates and extra credits.
Why games? Learning is often passive in economics, with a vast difference between abstract theoretical models and the busy nature of everyday economic activity. I (and many other experimental economists) incorporate games into the curriculum. Doing so not only raises students' interest, but also helps to illustrate abstract (but powerful) concepts and principles.
Experimental economists bring notebooks or chocolates to “sell”, in order to construct a downward sloping demand curve. My favorite is to ask students to participate in both Chamberlin and double auction markets, which allows them to experience the magic of the invisible hand and compare institutions. Furthermore, conducting public goods game motivates the discussion of property rights and the role of government. Prisoner dilemma game explains why collusion is easy to establish but hard to maintain. Stag-hunt game teaches the students the tradeoff between high payoff and low risk.
Experimental economics was initially used by Nobel Prize laureate Vernon Smith for educational purposes. I believe that games of social science should see expanded use in the classroom. They help to focus students attention, motivate independent thinking, provide extra rewards for learning, and also build connections between students and instructors. These games increase the confidence of both students and their instructors in what is being taught and learned.