Teachers Guide: Beat Japan

GOAL: Students learn some of the history of US/Japan economic competition over automobile markets and get a feel for the kinds of decisionmaking behind that competition. The Historical Record: What the Automakers Did is a researched history of the automobile market in the 20th century. For our specific competition with Japan, see "Trends Briefings" for some themes and issues to refer to, and add to these if you can find out more about it. Do not make the decade-by-decade reports available to students, however, as that will spoil the game!

LEARNING GOALS: All students will discover and apply economic relationships regarding pricing/production, supply/demand, market equilibrium and marketing forces, as shown in the diagrams below.



1. Connecting to The Issues
a. "Anybody have a parent who started their own business?" It's a big gamble but can have a big payoff. Everyone well employed in the "private sector" either succeeds at business or is employed by people who succeeded at business, and we depend on them to make good choices and keep our economy healthy.
b. A big part of business success is studying the market (history, forces, conditions) and learning enough about it to be able to make good choices. In this game, you'll learn some of the history of American/Japanese economic competition in the automobile industry, and get a chance to think the way corporate executives do about where to invest money.

2. Discuss Players Handbook

3. Play Rounds (10 Minutes/Round - See Players Handbook, Trends Briefings and Calculation Table, below.) Each Round is a "business cycle", which can be determined as one year (if you have plenty of time - we're covering four decades) or a number of years (but give students time to feel out the conditions of their decade). In each cycle, each team allocates funds into up to three different categories, and based on a random roll of percentile dice (or some other randomizer, such as the one found on this web page) you determine whether they succeed and reap the indicated investment percentage payoff (or lose the investment). Write that result on a monitoring chart like the one below, and when you have determined the profits for each team in each round, report them and explain them in detail, drawing on what you know about why things succeed or fail. Much of this is, like "Dungeons and Dragons" and other role playing games, based on real patterns but embellished and creatively crafted by your imagination.


ROUND ______


Allocation 1

Allocation 2

Allocation 3


























Investment Tactic Minimum
Payoff Probability of Success







1. Short Term







2. Increase Productivity







3. Market Control







4. Long Term







Profits from Tactic 1 occur in the given cycle.
*Profits from Tactic 2 occur for two cycles band are cumulative (apply percentage on investment + profits of cycle 1).
**Profits from Tactic 3 occur for three cycles.
***Profits from Tactic 4 show up after waiting 1 cycle, but then yield 200%, or after 2 cycles yielding 300%, and last for three cycles

Useful Codes: 50%R3,4 means add an additional 50% to profits in rounds three and four.
The teacher should make these notations on his or her own chart, without revealing to players what the results are beyond the current round

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