Since 2005, Econ Island has been a unique learning tool that uses an ongoing open-ended classroom simulation to teach about economics and government. It is designed by practicing New York State teachers to provide detailed lessons and materials for new economics or government teachers.  

In recent years, massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s) like World of Warcraft and other web or phone-based games have demonstrated the amount of time young people dedicate to incremental game advancement. The youth of America spend hours thoroughly engaged in digital gaming environments hoping to achieve the next level, high score, advancement, in-game title, or finish the next quest. Imagine if teachers could somehow develop similar incremental game advancement for use in their own classroom. What could that mean for learning?

The most recent update to Econ Island, Version 3, was designed to do precisely this. Version 3 provides an incentive framework that can be installed into any classroom or content area.  It establishes an evolving game environment driven by completion of the task, assessments, and assignments the teacher provides. The very “currency” that allows for advancement in the game is provided through teacher directed task completion. The teacher provides the content while the Econ Island environment creates a rich incentive structure.

Version 3 revolves around realm points. Students become the leader of a kingdom in Econ Island. Realm Points are the currency that all incremental game advancement occurs. All game mechanics revolve around the earning or grinding, to steal a phrase from the MMO world, of realm point currency. How students grind realm point is left solely to the instructor. Performance on assessment, assignments, or completion of tasks are valid ways of awarding realm points to students. This list is not exhaustive. Once awarded, the students spend realm points to provide for their “people”, incrementally advance their kingdom, and reach a variety of in-game rewards and plateaus.