Gamer kiddies to balance the US budget? [no joke]

Via JCM at Correspondence Committee, here is a story that seemed like a late April Fools joke, or a deleted scene from an Orson Scott Card novel.

As the United States continues to struggle with its deficit, a task force created by President Obama to address the situation may be turning to Microsoft to inform the public about the difficulties of balancing a federal budget.

According to USA Today, Erskine Bowles, head of the Obama administration’s budget-balancing task force, has contacted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to see whether the company could build a video game designed to allow gamers “to take a stab at balancing the budget.”

Details on the title are few and far between. Although it sounds like it will be Web-based, the publication didn’t confirm whether the PC-based game would be played online or be downloaded.

Perhaps the bigger question about the budget-balancing title is how the government plans to use it. Is the game simply a way for citizens to understand the nation’s financial issues or is it a way for the government to find good ideas and put them to use? If the government can monitor gamer decisions and use the collective intelligence of its players, maybe, just maybe, some of our larger issues could be resolved.

Of course, while this sort of crowdsourcing could work in theory, for it to work in practice presupposes that politicians are actually interested in balancing the budget rather than maximizing graft and voter buyoffs.

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