Railroad Tycoon

Lately, my son and I have started playing Railroad Tycoon II. The business concepts are little too advanced for him, so we both get a little frustrated at times. He just wants to buy trains, load up any cargo he wants and then watch them run. That would be great, except the game is highly dependent on money. Its easy to be unprofitable if not careful. So I keep intervening to help him make a profit so he can keep playing. At this point, he understands the need to make money, but not how. He also needs help controlling the mouse as he doesn't have the dexterity to control it well enough yet.

I really like this game. The business concepts it covers sounds like the core curriculum in most business colleges - supply and demand (economics), logistics, operations management, accounting, finance, and strategic management. I've always been intrigued by computer games that could be used for education. Railroad Tycoon (and as far as I know the other two tycoon games - Zoo and Roller Coaster) would be an excellent for intro to business students. Wouldn't it be really cool to have to learn about business by running one in a game? It could be part of the class credit. In order to pass the class, you would have to grow your business to $20 million in 10 years.


  1. John:
    I think that's a good idea. It might show youngsters what the real business world really is like, or could be and should be.

  2. Hey, i absolutely love this game too. ive been playing it since it came out in the 90's i think. i like how it mixes bussiness with a good historical base such as the people, train, industry and campaigns. also the variety of skill too. the beginner difficulty is great for kids because most of the monetary management is done for you and industries create supply without being supplied. im currently trying to complete every scenario in the diffuclty mode. althought haveing this game for 10 years ive recently learned that i can control my dividend, which really helps with the personal net worth.
    i think my friends used rollar coaster tycoon in gradde 12 bussiness class, however playing all those tycoons, i think zoo and collar coaster tycoon are essentially sandbox games compared to RT2. none the less fun.
    take it easy John.


  3. I've come across several courses both at the high school level and collegiate level that use business simulation games or business simulation software(for the more "serious"). What I've found though is most professors have a tough time relating what's happening in the game to real life. Instead of the game making business concepts more real to students, students tend to isolate the game from real life and try to "beat it" instead of understanding the principles involved. They miss the big picture and instead try to find the shortcuts (which is what you do is most video games). Since finding the path of least resistance is what most students do anyway, the lesson is often lost.

  4. Mike,

    Good luck completing the difficult levels. Sounds like something I might want to look into.

    You have correctly identified several major problems with using business simulations in classes. I don't have time to address each one today, but they may be worthy of a future blog post. Thank you for your comments.