Ontroerend Goed's wickedly enjoyable game encourages you to crash the stock market
Ontroerend Goed’s ‘£¥€$ (LIES)’ takes its cue from the mysteries of global economics, but doesn’t actually manage to demystify very much. It’s an enjoyable, Monopoly-style romp through the capitalist system but it isn’t going to explain why the market crashed, or what we can do to stop it.
What it will do is give you the opportunity to experience, on a tiny scale, the avarice, lack of responsibility and gambling that appears to be at the heart of banking. ‘£¥€$’ is set up like a casino: there are ten tables of seven people, with a ‘croupier’ who runs your show. Each table represents a country with its own currency, represented by poker chips. Each audience member is a bank.
Director Alexander Devriendt has ensured a stylish set-up. A rotating board in the middle of the room keeps track of each country’s global rating, the exchange rate, and the amount of money on the market; the frenetic air of a trading room floor convincingly dominates. After I merged with another bank, I was given a special gold die to roll (losses and profits are decided by rolling dice); another audience member was given a red die after he accidentally put his returns straight back in his capital, apparently committing tax evasion.
Baffled? Don’t worry, you don’t need a head for numbers to play. The croupier is your financial guru, your government, your market and your narrator. The existence of governments and markets is never really explained, but frankly neither is a fair chunk of the financial lingo. The enjoyment is in making big reckless decisions about how much money to ‘invest’ (bet) and the myriad ways you can do this as the game progresses. Inevitably, of course, the market crashes, and there’s a frisson as the room decides which countries they will let go under and which they will save.
‘£¥€$’ is ultimately more of a gesticulation towards an idea than it is a genuinely clever interactive play, but what it lacks in substance, it makes up for in cool concept and enjoyable game play where the stakes almost feel real.