Euro Cash Academy
This game has the music you would hear in a Safeway commercial. I am happy that someone was paid to make these illustrations, but the animation of the the Europa character’s mouth moving was just creepy because it didn’t match the words she was speaking. Kind of an uncanny valley-type creepy. The game starts off forcing you to watch a boringly shot video and then quizzing you on the new Euro banknotes.
Then you are able to learn more about the features of the note by twirling around in a panorama of a European town, finding informational pop-ups sort of like a drab advent calendar with no yummy chocolates. The music also became aggressively cheery and after about a minute of listening to the 16-bar loop I quickly closed the window. I felt sad that I wasn’t able to play their much cooler looking Tetris game but they appear to have taken it down.
Escape From Barter Islands
A very simple puzzle game where you are marooned in an archipelago and need to trade oranges for a sail to escape. The first two islands you go to have barter economies which makes the game somewhat challenging. Much like a maze you have to find what sequence of trades will get you to the next island, all before the sun goes down. I liked that the sun actually progressed across the sky as you traded on each island rather than a simple countdown, but the art style was definitely not my favorite.
On the third island they trade everything for coconuts, which makes trading for your sail as easy as two trades. The lesson here being that currency helps expedite the process of fixing merchant ships and other transactions besides. An easy game, a simple message.
The first thing that impressed me about this game was the music, unlike the Cash Academy it was actually listenable! The point of this game is something like a soccer management game (which I’ve never understood the appeal for) except you play as a central bank; changing the key interest rate to try and keep inflation down and at a steady 2%. You can check in with advisors, most of whom are hilarious looking, look at indicators, or read fake news headlines to help plan your next move.
The animations were clean and the interface could have used only minor improvements, but what I was impressed by was the leaderboards which actually gave the player an incentive to win the game. I played this multiple times to try and win, and learned not only about the key interest rate but that I would make a lousy head of a central bank.
Fed Chairman Game
This was a lousier version of it’s Europian counterpart, €conomia. I’d be interested to learn which game came out first because of how similar they are, down to the newspaper headlines idea. It had no music except for a few jarring sound effects, it’s interface and font were pretty run of the mill, and I think it used Microsoft Word clip art for the intro picture. I was severely unimpressed.
Another quiz game from the European Central Bank, same as €conomia, and Euro Cash Academy. The animations were incredibly slick, but there’s no real way to get me excited for what is basically a glorified SAT-style test on the European banking industry.
I was immediately disappointed that due to an issue with the browser or the coding of the game it wouldn’t properly fit in my window, I learned later that my mission was to deliver important documents to the council of the bank and on the elevator ride answer questions Cash Cab-style to earn the papers for my bosses. The intro music was very repetitive but still better than the uninspired muzak of the Cash Academy, and the people that kept rushing into my elevator were as vaguely hilarious as the characters in €conomia. Again the top scores were recorded which makes the player have a reason for answering quickly instead of relying on the lifeline telephone for the answers.
Monetary Policy Balloon
Honestly I was surprised that a game with this little effort put into it would be the most entertaining to play. Like €conomia and the excitingly named Fed Chairman Game, Balloon serves to teach the player that the interest rate and inflation are inversely related. And it does so pretty quickly when you realize to make the balloon (inflation) go up you use the down arrow.
Now, this game is not without it’s flaws. Firstly, the design is utterly abysmal, the font is Comic San’s utilitarian half-brother. Taking a page out of Escape From Barter Islands’ book they used simplistic art style to make it look bright and fun, which unfortunately made it look slapdash and uninspired. Lastly, the narration made me feel sorry for the English dude forced to read that script on a soundstage somewhere, their plan was to use rainclouds and factories as metaphors for economic crises and booms respectively, but the guy sounded so dreary I played the next few games with the sound off. It could have had some music, but seeing their font choice I shudder to think what they would have used.