Game-Based Learning with VoiceThread- Part 3: The Ultimatum Game


The Ultimatum Game is popular in Economics and Psychology courses but it can be applied to a variety of different course subjects like History, Math, and Literature. Below, you will see a few examples of how this game can be used in different educational contexts on VoiceThread.

How does the game work?

The ultimatum game can be played between two players or two teams of players. The mechanics of the game are simple: one side decides how to split a sum of money between both sides and the other side can either accept or reject the offer. Let’s say that side 1 is tasked with dividing a sum of \$10. They decide to keep \$7 and give side 2 the remaining \$3. If side 2 accepts the offer, each side receives their amount. If side 2 rejects the offer, neither side receives any money.

The Ultimatum game is fundamentally about fairness and equality. It helps quantify how much inequality side 2 is willing to accept and at what point they revolt. The game can be played as a one-off decision or an iterated (repeated) game with rounds. The game can be played in isolation or as part of a larger competition between the groups.

One-off version: In this version, side 1 decides how to split the money and side 2 accepts or rejects the offer. After both sides make their choice, the game ends.

Iterated version: In this version, side 1 and side 2 make their choices, the money is awarded, then the teams continue to round 2 and make choices again. This version allows for as many rounds as needed for both sides to start to recognize patterns in the game. After a series of rounds, both sides should begin to see the cut-off point where a specific dollar amount will be accepted or rejected.

Group version: In this version, the sides are not simply competing against each other but against other teams as well. After the specified number of rounds, you can tally up the totals for side 1 and side in each group and compare their totals to the total “winnings” for the other groups. This version promotes more equality and fairness in the decision making process because too many rejections will decrease the totals for both sides in the larger competition.

This game can be created easily on VoiceThread. You can create a VoiceThread with the instructions and enough slides for each group to play their game. Simply upload your slides and record your comments, then drag and drop your VoiceThread into your group!

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