Voted Off The Island At Berkeley Haas


The newest simulated game to be introduced at Sloan is the World Climate Project, which is also slated to be used on a global level by the White House in August. Earlier this month, Sterman ran the simulation in-person at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The game can be run online, but Sterman believes some intangible benefits come from playing the game in-person.

For instance, teams are assigned different national delegations to represent and the developed-nation teams are given “piles of delicious food heaped up high.” The teams representing developing countries? Nada. Barren tables. And the undeveloped nations? They have to sit on the floor.

“There are immediate grievances,” Sterman explains. “The first thing I did is say, ‘Who here is from the European Union,’ and a whole bunch of hands went up. I said, ‘Great, today you’re India.’ Then I said, ‘OK, who’s here from China,’ and a whole bunch of hands went up. And I told them, ‘Today, you’re the United States.'”


Sterman does it to add some stakes to the game.

“People tell me, ‘You’re going to bring all of these people in but they’re not going to learn anything because nothing’s really at stake. They’re all going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya and come up with some unrealistic, politically ridiculous climate agreement that’s never going to happen in the real world,'” Sterman explains. “But by having the food and having them sit on the floor, in my experience, it’s never happened that way. They never sing Kumbaya.”

After participants come up with a negotiated solution, their ideas are entered into a climate policy simulation model called C-ROADS to see what their solutions would actually do. The first solution proposed by the world leaders at the conference resulted in a result that would make climate change in the year 2100 “a little less catastrophic, but still horrifying for the future of humanity,” Sterman said, also noting he dressed up and acted like U.S. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Rest assured, citizens of this planet, after a second round of negotiations, the world leaders did better.

The value of the game, Sterman says, is in the leaders who are using it. Policy makers from China, France, and Brazil, among others, have it in their possession. President Barack Obama has been briefed on it, as has U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. And it is used by MBAs in the classroom each semester at Sloan.

Berkeley's Haas School of Business

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business


Back in the Northern California classroom at Haas, Morgan introduces the three final teams to compete for moolah and pride. First up is the Haash Equilibrium–a wordplay on Haas and the Nash Equilibrium. After a five-slide-long Powerpoint presentation and an attempt at the Dab Dance, the team fields questions from the class.

“How many teams did you have to screw over to get to the final round?” a male classmate asks before the room rolls in laughter.

“I think we played that game-within-a-game pretty well,” a Haash Equilibrium representative counters. “We formed a cartel pretty early on–not a cartel–a coalition, let’s call it. The only time we voted anyone out of that coalition was once when we had to.”

Next up is Game Over, which resorts to an edible enticement. “If we win, we will throw a barbecue for all the teams in this class,” Alex Sierkov announces, “as a final bribe for your vote.”

“Alex is changing the game right now,” teammate Carolina Paz pipes in as laughter again ensues.

The final team to present is Heroes Never Die. Sealing their fate of not becoming this semester’s Sole Survivor, the team resorts to a Lyndon B. Johnson-focused filibuster.


The votes come in and as they’re tallied, it’s clear all votes are going to Game Over and Haash Equilibrium.

“First vote, Game Over,” Morgan announces. “Second vote, Haash Equilibrium!” And the back-and-forth game begins until it ends up a complete draw. “How in the world are we going to settle this?” Morgan asks with excitement and slight bamboozlement. Since Heroes Never Die didn’t receive a single vote, they’re eliminated and get to place a vote. “The final votes will be between Game Over and Haash Equilibrium. The Heroes died,” Morgan jokes.

This time Game Over wins and collects the $100 for each member.

Paz believes her team was able to take the win by playing for the Sole Survivor instead of trying to win games on a weekly basis. Multiple times, she says, her team “sacrificed” themselves for the greater good of the house and gained immunity from being voted off. The bribery at the end also helped, she admits. Sierkov says being able to think like other teams and attempt to predict other teams’ moves and strategies also paid off.

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