M.U.L.E. is a seminal multiplayer video game by Ozark Softscape. It was published in 1983 by Electronic Arts. It was originally written for the Atari 400/800 and was later ported to the Commodore 64, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the IBM PCjr. Japanese versions also exist for the PC-8801, the Sharp X1, and MSX 2 computers. While it plays like a strategy game, it incorporates aspects that simulate economics.
What a wonderful, perfect, delightful little strategy game about economics. Economics has never been so fun. Colonizing the planet Irata (Atari backwards, of course), you get to vie over plots of land to use for farming, mining, or energy collection, and each bit of land can be more advantageous than others for those purposes. After gaining a random amount of resources for each plot of land you own (adjusted for certain events like acid rain, planetquake, or other random events), you get to compete with your fellow colonists to buy and sell these resources with each other and the store, which has a set amount of certain resources and will buy excess resources from players.
The back-and-forth action “selling line” done by moving your colonist up and down makes buying and selling not at all boring as it could have done with straight up “Enter your sale price” prompts. It is a really brilliant idea that makes the game a standout and a joy to play even over 30 years later.
See, gaming, Electronic Arts wasn’t always about putting out the same safe games every year. I miss the old EA.