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.

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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.

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