Distribution Game, The Download (1995 Simulation Game)

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More of an educational tool than an entertaining "game," The Distribution Game is a good simulation game of a two level distribution system - the warehouse and the retailers. As owner of a "middle man" company, you control both levels by deciding when to order and how much to order from your suppliers, and when to ship, and how much to ship to each retailer. The goal is to cost effectively manage the flow of goods to satisfy random customer demands at multiple locations - to make as much profits as you can of course.

The game is turn-based: at the beginning of each day, you must make four decisions - how much to order from the supplier, and how much to ship from the warehouse to each of the three retailers. Then it's just a matter of clicking the big GO button and see the results of your decisions. A cost report, cumulative flow plot, and statistics are available and constantly updated to help you gauge your progress. Although the game may seem simplistic because you make only a few decisions per day on only one parameter (the amount of goods), The Distribution Game is complex because you must maximize profits (revenues minus costs), and inefficient/imprudent action can dramatically increase your costs and thereby reducing your profits. If you place orders or make shipments too often, your order costs will be too high. On the other hand, you also cannot keep too much inventory or your interest and holding costs will be too high. You also must ensure that retailers are consistently supplied with stock, and not to waste a truck's trip needlessly. Just as in a real business, every decision you make has an impact on the bottom line.

The Distribution Game is certainly not for everyone. Most people will probably find it too "dry" for their taste, as it is less of a "game" than a realistic simulation. Anyone who is interested in business, economics, or finance will probably find the game fun and challenging. I find it fun and challenging, but then again as a practitioner of finance I probably am too biased to say this ;) Anyway, take a look if you are interested in a more realistic simulation of the supply chain than the colored lines in Capitalism.


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