Microbiz for Education

MicroBiz wasn’t designed as a teaching aid; it was designed to be fun. However, it is a fairly realistic simulation, and simply by being realistic, it makes a good laboratory for teaching several useful skills and concepts:

1. Calculating profit. If you offer your product at a given price without thinking about the profit per turn that you’re going to make on the deal, you may well find yourself working for nearly nothing.

2. Negotiation. I have a sweet deal to fulfill, and I need your product to help fulfill it. How much profit will I be making? How much profit will you be making? Unless we’re both getting a decent share, the deal isn’t going to work (though of course, I want to maximize my share!)

3. Efficiency. Good players are usually working on three projects at once, while optimizing their transportation efforts to be carrying several things usefully in the same direction at the same time. Foresight is required!  Running all over the map to pick up one more item that you forgot last time you were over there, will ruin you!

4. Capital and inventory. New players often make an aggressive grab for as many properties as possible at the beginning of the game. And then… they find themselves borrowers and debtors for the next several game years. Why? Because they have saved nothing for working capital and inventory. They are then unable to stockpile raw materials, produce in quantity, or undertake big projects, unless another player is willing to bail them out… at interest.

5. Competition. The game is intentionally designed to have at least two producers in every industry that really matters. And the rules discourage monopolies. So, if I go around charging too high a price, you’re going to go and deal with Sam for that steel that you need. On the other hand, if I have it on the truck ready to deliver, and Sam can get to it in five turns or so, I probably can command a higher price.

6. Cooperation. The lone wolf doesn’t usually win at MicroBiz. His big ambitions simply take more time than he has available. The winner has often collaborated with several other players in turn, allowing him or her to move more efficiently and take part in bigger payoffs.