More action, more participants, and even more debt

Simulation game „States in debt crisis“

Hansenberg boarding school and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Hesse invited us to play our old favourite “States in debt crisis.” A stress test of sorts for us, since the tight schedule from 8 am until 6 pm, including two guest speakers and 65 ambitious boarders posed a challenge even to us experienced old hands.

The setting of the game is budgetary policy. At the beginning of the game, a lot of money can be spent. Unions, property sharks, civil servants and international corporations all have different demands and needs, lowering taxes, raising wages, stimulation of the economy. Can’t be done? Yes it can! Thanks to getting into further debt, the government can satisfy many needs.

In the second of three rounds we as game facilitators cause an external shock. A banking crisis erupts, the easing of which tears into the already overstretched budgets. Suddenly, money must be saved. Down with the wages, or up with taxes? To make things worse, other, external actors get involved. Credit rating agencies and monetary Union representatives suddenly know everything better and start putting politicians under additional pressure. The pupils haggle and persuade one another and are interviewed by the press team. There are regular news broadcasts. A busy scene – unfortunately one without a happy ending.

Can there ever be a happy ending to a state debt crisis? This is the question we ask during evaluation and two guest experts help us answer it: Dr. Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, senior expert at PWC and a member of the advisory board to the European Commission, and Prof. Dr. Adalbert Winkler of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

In the evening, everybody is exhausted but happy, even without the happy ending in the game. Many tell us that they now have a better understanding of how strongly politics and economy depend on each other and what the current debates around the debt and Euro crises is actually about.

Facts + Figures

Target group

Secondary school pupils aged 16 and above

  • Learning about basic principles in economic and budgetary policy
  • Experiencing domestic political conflicts under pressure from international institutions
  • Become aware of the sensitive relationship of economy and politics
  • Becoming more familiar with the vocabulary of economic policy
  • Categorisation and reflection on causes and effects

Boarding school Schloss Hansenberg

Friedrich Ebert Foundation Hessen


5 h

Number of participants



Schloss Hansenberg, Hessen





  • I had no idea before. The simulation game has really helped me to get an idea of the world of economy. I understand the words they use on TV a lot better.


  • What I see on the news about the economy always seems so scary. And I have never understood all those numbers. Now I realised that it's really not that complicated at all.


  • I have realised that the economic and financial crisis can be grasped by everybody.


In the media

  • Hansenberg boarding school’s blog (20.01.2014): report (in German)