The Game of Politics©

American Government Simulation


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Test Drive

Welcome to this test drive for The Game of Politics© macro and micro simulations.  Just click on any of the items on the following table to see samples and learn about various elements of these simulations.  You can always go to another item by clicking at the top of page link at the end of each section.

Roles Bills Budget
Cases Story Lines Manuals


Between 15 and 75 roles are assigned in a specific order based on the number of participants in The Game of Politics© macro version.  A reduced number of roles are assigned in a specific order in each micro simulation.  Gender-neutral role biographies give participants a sense of constituency, background, party affiliation and other relevant information without limiting the ability to make personal choices on political issues.  Sample biographies follow:

Estorian, Television Network News Reporter/Analyst

Estorian is a highly respected journalist who has received top ratings from viewers and awards from colleagues.  The popular media figure is known for being both objective and willing to dig beneath the surface to get at a good news story.  Politicians have mixed feelings about Estorian.  They see how the reporter can help them individually through positive publicity.  However, they are concerned that Estorian can also hurt them by reporting on controversial or embarrassing matters.

Irwin, Chief Justice, United States Supreme Court

Chief Justice Irwin has presided over the Court for more than a decade.  Prior to that, Irwin served as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Originally, Chief Justice Irwin pursued a career in law after graduating from Princeton.  It did not take long before Irwin became a Rhode Island state judge and then moved on to the federal judiciary.  Irwin has presided over the Supreme Court after a period of internal conflict and is viewed as a consensus-builder.

Meyers, United States Senator from Michigan (Democrat)

Senator Meyers has a solid electoral base in Michigan and has held office for four terms after serving for three terms in the House.  Meyers is Majority Leader of the Senate and has kept Senate Democrats together on controversial issues.  Senator Meyers was very helpful in advancing the programs of President Millworth in the last session.  Meyers is also the First Vice Chair of the Government Operations Committee and the Second Vice Chair of the Budget Committee.  It is expected that Senator Meyers will retire at the end of this term.

Millworth, President of the United States (Democrat)

After two terms as a Senator from Oregon, Millworth ran for the office of President and promised “new ideas for new times.”  The Oregon Senator was elected by a narrow margin. During the first year of the new administration, Millworth had difficulty in getting a program through the Congress.  The President had strong support from the Democratic majority in the Senate but was stopped by the Republican dominated House of Representatives.  Millworth is the first President to get a divorce while in the White House.

Villary, Member of House of Representatives from Indiana (Republican)

Villary has a very safe seat south of Indianapolis and has been reelected seven times. Representative Villary has held the position of Speaker of the House for the past six years and is presently the First Vice Chair of the Internal Matters Committee in the House.  Villary had major responsibility for blocking President Millworth’s program in the last session.  Yet, some Republicans are becoming disappointed with Villary’s leadership and are leaning towards Culpepper, Nedwick or Prescott.

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There are 180 bills in the macro and micro simulations that are phased in depending on the number of sessions.  These short bills are pre-assigned to parallel committees (Internal Matters, External Matters and Government Operations) in both houses and cover a wide range of policy issues, plus fiscal impact.  Each new release of the simulation adds and deletes bills to avoid obsolescence. Sample legislation follows:


Referred to Internal Matters Committee

In an effort to protect agriculture and drinking water supplies, the national government will authorize the construction of desalinization plants to convert salt water into fresh water.  In total, there will be three such plants on the Atlantic Coast and another three plants on the Pacific Coast.  These plants will pipe water into a system that can be directed to any region that has severe water shortages. The water piping system must connect to all states in the Continental United States and will constitute 50% of the total cost of the project.

Fiscal Note: $38 Billion annual expenditures

Referred to Government Operations Committee

In order to reduce gun violence, the national government will impose a 100% tax on all ammunition that is sold at the retail level.  Ammunition may only be sold to individuals who have been approved to purchase a weapon.  This tax will not apply to purchases by police departments or the military.

Fiscal Note: $5 Billion annual revenue

Referred to External Matters Committee

In order to promote the long-term interests of the United States, the United States withdraws from the United Nations and notifies the United Nations that it must find new headquarters within five years of the passage of this legislation.  This action is taken because the United Nations has been inefficient and ineffective and has not reflected the interests of the United States.

The United States reserves the right to confiscate the present UN headquarters property in New York City and sell it for commercial purposes.  The United Nations will be compensated for any loss, based on fair market value of the property.

Fiscal Note: $2 Billion annual savings

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A comprehensive national government budget is an integral part of the two simulation packages.  The Administration and Congress use actual information from past budget years and new priorities to help construct a budget for the coming year. Budget information is updated for each new release of the simulation.  A sample of selected budget data follows:

    EXPENDITURE (by category $ = trillions, billions, millions)

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Current
National Defense 0,272,066 0,265,753 0,270,505 0,268,456 0,274,873
Foreign Affairs 0,016,434 0,013,496 0,015,228 0,013,019 0,015,243
Science & Space 0,016,724 0,016,709 0,017,174 0,018,219 0,018,125
Energy ----- 0,004,936 0,002,839 0,001,475 0,001,270 0,000,912
Nat. Res. & Envir.  0,021,915 0,021,524 0,021,227 0,022,300 0,023,968
Agricult. .... 0,009,778 0,009,159 0,009,032 0,012,206 0,023,011

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Eight Supreme Court cases in The Game of Politics© macro simulation and six cases in the Supreme Court micro simulation ensure that all three branches of the national government are included.  Each annual update has a new “mix” of cases from the 30+ case inventory.  These cases cover a wide range of topics and illustrate various routes to the nation’s highest Court.  A sample case follows:

Gonder v. University of New Hampshire

After a year of study and debate, the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire made the decision to become a completely smoke-free institution.  This action recognized the dangers associated with second-hand smoke.  In becoming a completely smoke-free institution, the university eliminated all areas on campus that were previously available for smokers, including parking lots.

Dr. Derek Gonder, Professor of Film Studies at the University, brought a federal anti-discrimination lawsuit against the institution.  Gonder claimed that he had an addiction to nicotine and could not stop smoking.  He pointed out that he had attempted to stop smoking several times under the direction of a physician in a clinic for nicotine addicts.  However, Professor Gonder was unable to permanently change his behavior.  In fact, Gonder’s addiction to nicotine had actually increased since he began treatment.

According to a psychiatrist that testified at the trial, Dr. Gonder’s addiction to nicotine constituted a disabling condition - that Gonder needed to smoke several times during the day and night so that he could perform his duties.  The psychiatrist said that Professor Gonder would become hopelessly depressed if he was denied frequent access to a place on campus where he could smoke cigarettes…………(case continues)

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Story Lines

The Game of Politics© macro and micro simulations are kept in motion through carefully crafted Story Lines that evolve over the course of the game.  Drawing on an inventory of over 200 potential Story Lines, individual scenarios focus on (1) various bills, (2) selected budget items, (3) constituency service matters, (4) domestic issues, (5) distractions, (6) foreign/military problems, as well as (7) wildcards for legislative and executive participants.  Participants encounter from 22 to 59 Story Lines depending on the length and size of the simulation.

Each new release of the simulation contains two constellations of Story Lines that can take the form of correspondence, press releases, editorials, meetings or press conferences.  Coordinators can select what constellation of Story Lines they prefer to use for a macro or micro simulation.

Three sample Story Lines for an individual simulation session follow:

TO:  The Media

FR:  General News Reports

RE:  Church Burnings

Last night, at 10:49 p.m., an African American church was burned to the ground in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  As in other cases, the warning took place just before the fire was set.  And, as in other cases, the fire was set when a bomb exploded and ignited several gallons of gasoline that had been placed in the area.

There were no fatalities in this case.  However, it is only a matter of time until there is a fatality or an injury.  This is the third incident this year in which an African American church was bombed.

The FBI has declined to comment on the attacks at this time.

TO:  The President

FR:  The State Department

RE:     Russian-Chinese Disputed Territory

The Chinese government is again demanding that Russia turn over the territory along the Sea of Japan from the Russian City of Vladivostok to the North Korean border.  This has been an area that has been in dispute since the 1940s.  China claims that this is Chinese territory and gives them access to the Sea of Japan.  Russia claims that this is Russian territory and was captured during the Second World War.  It was of strategic importance to the Soviet Union and is still of strategic importance to Russia.

We are watching developments and will advise you of any changes in the situation.
TO:  Senator Inglassi

FM:  Your Staff

RE:  Macular Degeneration Grant Proposal  

The Chicago Eye Clinic has applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue research for treatment of Macular Degeneration, an eye disease that results in partial blindness of hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans.  The Chicago Eye Clinic has been conducting research in this area for several years and has applied for a grant to use electrical stimulation to restore a damaged retina, the back surface inside the eyeball..

Adrian Schmidt, the Director of the Clinic, has asked our office to persuade the NIH to expedite consideration of the Chicago Eye Clinic’s grant application.  The Clinic has an excellent track record and the grant application is outstanding.  The problem is getting the NIH to speed up their approval processes.  As it stands, the Clinic submitted its application three months ago.  NIH still hasn’t gotten around to reviewing the grant.  Once NIH reads the grant proposal, it is almost certain that the grant will be approved.

We recommend that you schedule an appointment with Dr. Fenton, Director of the National Institutes of Health and urge that they begin reviewing the Chicago Eye Clinic Grant.  You can stress that the Eye Clinic has not done anything wrong and that the delay is within the grant approval unit.  Fenton knows that you are the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and realizes that you have great power in approving the NIH budget……….. (memo continues)

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Help is provided to the user through a highly accessible and flexible CD-ROM-based  Coordinator’s Manual for The Game of Politics©.  The other component is a hands-on, and theoretically driven, Participant’s Manual  for players and the coordinator.  The Participant’s Manual can be obtained either through campus bookstores or directly from

Both manuals can be ordered on a CD-ROM and materials can be printed, copied and distributed at your institution without violating copyright.  See How to Order for more information.

The Table of Contents for each of these manuals follows:

The Game of Politics©

Coordinator's Manual

  1. The Game of Politics: An Overview; 2. Frequently Asked Questions 

The Game of Politics Macro Simulation

Teaching With The Game of Politics:  3. Quick Start Approach to Macro Simulation;  4. Fitting the Simulation Into Your Course Plans

Preparing for the Macro Simulation:  5. Introducing the Simulation to Participants;  6. Assigning Roles

Managing the Macro Simulation Experience:  7. The Session Before Play Begins;  8. Session One;  9. Session Two;  10. Keeping Things Going

Reflection:  11. Debriefing;  12. Evaluation

Micro Simulation Alternatives

13. Bill Becomes a Law Simulation;   14. Presidential Decision-Making Simulation; 15. Supreme Court Decision-Making Simulation


Appendices:  A. Role Assignment Order;  B. Profile and Preference Questions;  C. Preliminary Information on Role Assignments;  D. Distribution of Roles;  E. Roles and Responsibilities;  F. Role Analysis;  G. Journal;  H.  Legislative Leadership;  I. Committee Assignments;  J. Supreme Court Module; K. Budget Glossary

The Game of Politics©

Participant's Manual

1. Serious Games: a Creative Way to Learn  Learning Through Games;  Serious Games and the Study of Politics;  The Game of Politics Simulations; Getting Started

2. The Game of Politics  The Cast of Characters;  The Policy Agenda;  Story Lines;  Putting It All Together

3. Making the Most of This Experience Your New Role;  Constructing Political Strategies;  Alternative Strategies;  What You Should Learn

Appendices:  A. Biographies,  B. Legislation;  C. National Budget; D. Supreme Court Cases

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