Microsoft may make budget-balancing game for US government

Bipartisan commission has reportedly contacted Steve Ballmer about making a game that could let any US citizen suggest ways to deflate ballooning national debt.

206 Comments

Whatever one's political perspective may be, there's no denying that the ballooning US debt is a large and complex problem. Now, USA Today reports that a presidential commission studying how to stop the budget deficit from growing out of control is trying a novel approach: video games.

Given that Washington hasn't been able to figure out a way to balance the budget, a presidential commission is willing to let gamers try.
Given that Washington hasn't been able to figure out a way to balance the budget, a presidential commission is willing to let gamers try.

According to the national daily, committee co-chair Erskine Bowles, who served as White House chief of staff from 1997-1998, has asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about the possibly of creating a game that would allow anyone to come up with a solution for the budget deficit.

Though the gameplay mechanics of the proposed title are unclear, former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, who headed a similar commission in 1994, thinks that such a title could "go viral" and generate new ideas from outside Washington, D.C.

If Microsoft ends up developing a virtual budget balancer, it won't be the first government-backed non-entertainment game. In 2007, the Homeland Security department began developing a game to help train Border Patrol and Customs Enforcement officers. The department also commissioned the game Zero Hour: America's Medic to instruct emergency responders from Virtual Heroes, a company that makes training simulations using game tech. (Click here for a video demonstration.)

However, the majority of games developed by the government are for the military. Since 2002, the US Army has spent $32.8 million to develop PC shooter America's Army to use as a recruiting tool. Another Army-training simulation was developed into the full-blown 2004 commercial release Full Spectrum Warrior by the now-all-but-defunct Pandemic Studios.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 206 comments about this story