Think tank examines Budget Hero user data

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Remember Budget Hero? That’s the interactive national budget game launched in May 2008 by American Public Media. Players use the same economic model and data as the Congressional Budget Office, choosing from among more than 160 policy options to try to balance the budget. The game caught on quickly: Within three weeks it had been linked in at least 100 blogs. Since its inception about 10 percent of players, around 15,000, left enough anonymous data to do some crunching. David Rejeski, director of the Serious Games Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in D.C., offers up some interesting stats. Popular policy options include bringing troops home soon, cutting pork barrel spending, cutting military spending by 10 percent and capping and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Also, more than 50 percent of the players earned two or more of the 10 possible badges and played multiple times. In an October 2008 piece for Current, Contributing Editor Louis Barbash wrote that Budget Hero “is not by any means a comprehensive tool for estimating budget impacts of various policies, but it does give users a sense of the magnitude and interconnectedness of the policy promises that get thrown around during campaigns.”