I was just wandering around and found Katrina: The Gathering cards. Unfortunately, they clicked in my head with MMORPG economies, and I thought to myself:
To teach and test economic theory, it should be possible to use a collectable card game - or even just a non-collectable card game. Theoretically, you can also test political theories and all that crap, too.
Think about it like this: Magic: The Gathering has five different "color mana". The economic game, on the other hand, might have five different economic fundamentals. Say, money, gems (long-term luxuries/investments), flowers (short-term luxuries), grain (necessities), and organization. Or maybe organization would be like colorless artefacts and there's another "color". Whatever.
Each would have different economic rules, embodied by the cards they play and their relationships with other card types... all explicitly spelled out in cards. Jen played the "planned economy" card - no workers may be removed from play until it is destroyed. Michael plays eight luxuries workers - he can't pay their upkeep, but they can't be destroyed. Does he get to keep them for free, or is the player of the "planned economy" card responsible for paying them? These are the sorts of things the card game could illustrate.
I think it's an interesting idea. It wouldn't be "realistic", but it would be thought-provoking and maybe even fun. Unlike most games, it wouldn't be a matter of "get more mana, deploy more creatures": the primary feedback loops require a level of interactive infrastructure, and direct attacks would be rare.
You could probably do the same type of thing with politics, but I wouldn't know where to begin.
What do you guys think?