Welcome to Dollar Bay

Dollar Bay is a multi-user retailing game hosted on the internet. Players join an agent-based simulation where they assume ownership of a virtual store. The goal for each player is to create a profitable store. This learn-by-doing approach is often described as 'immersive' and provides practical experience leading to greater conceptual understanding.

The current state of the game, and the immediate future

The Dollar Bay software is currently available in version 2.1, but is still under development and we are looking for partners to help move forward. Meanwhile, the game is operational and a number of ancillary materials have been created, including lesson plans that conform to national economic education standards, activity worksheets, and feedback surveys designed for both students and teachers. These are all available below.

The game is populated by a range of intelligent software agents. In particular, the shoppers operate with an intelligent algorithm, and the employees are smart and getting smarter.

At the present time, Dollar Bay is developed to a point where classrooms of students could be engaged (for an hour a day) for 2-3 week periods. The ultimate goal is to provide an online game that will take a semester to play.

The current Dollar Bay interface

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Each player starts with $25,000 in virtual money and competes with other players, who have also inherited a store and $25K. Here a store owner is querying the employee while a shopper enters looking for furniture.

The advertising interface, where players choose what to emphasize in their store.

The hiring interface, where players choose an employee. Employees accumulate history, and will eventually be programmed to operate differently, according to their experience. Note this employee has worked at more than one store.

The Ordering interface, where players choose their product line.

The Stock interface, where players set prices and can return products that are not selling.

The Information interface, where players keep track of their stores. Note, there are five tabs on this interface, including a scoreboard, a weekly ledger (show above), a sales record, an expenditures record, and the Dollar Bay Times, a newspaper where the advertising appears.

Analytical Problem Solving

The game stresses the need for targeting consumer groups and focusing resources through the use of a market research tool that provides a competitive advantage over the random strategies that students tend towards. The message of the game is that analytical approaches to problem solving are superior to guesswork and luck.

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Market Targeting provides data for analysis and decision making. This example shows a demographic breakdown of the Dollar Bay township in the Dollar Bay region.

More Market Targeting. This example shows the demand for Electronics in the Dollar Bay township in the Dollar Bay region.

Market Reporting is also a valuable tool for analysis. This example shows the distribution of sales across stores in the entire Dollar Bay simulation.

Dollar Bay Navigation and Activities

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The Map of the Dollar Bay region. This map shows about 40 stores, ten warehouses (as shown to the right), the bank, the hall of fame (a yellow star), all divided into eight small towns arranged around the bay, Dollar Bay.

The bank, where loans can be arranged. Future implementations will provide a more sophisticated model of banking.

A warehouse, where wholesale goods are ordered for retail sales.

Dollar Bay Ancillary Resources

A range of ancillary materials have been developed to assist with presenting and using Dollar Bay

The Dollar Bay brochure

  • The front side of a 3-fold brochure about the Dollar Bay project (a 132 KB JPG file).
  • The back side of a 3-fold brochure about the Dollar Bay project (a 94 KB JPG file).

Dollar Bay Instructors Guide

The Instructors Guide contains an instructors overview, activities and quizzes with answer keys, and a series of six 50-minute lessons for students. Each of the Dollar Bay lessons are anchored by National Economics Content Standards as established by the Foundation for Teaching Economics.

The 36 page Dollar Bay Instructors Guide (a 306 KBytes PDF file) version 1.1, is available for download.

A nine page document, just containing the first lesson is also available.

Dollar Bay Surveys

Scenario-based Assessment for Dollar Bay

A Demo Path

Technical Issues with Dollar Bay

The recent versions of Dollar Bay are implemented using the JavaMOO architecture developed by WWWIC at NDSU. The technical details of this project are described in the JavaMOO Technical Description document (a 2-page, 960KB PDF file).

Background and Scholarship with Dollar Bay

Dollar Bay is an agent-based simulation with intelligent software agents operating as shoppers, employees, and a number of other roles in the environment. The economic model is authentic and robust, supporting a large number of competitors.

Papers published

  • Slator, Brian M., Harold Chaput, Robert Cosmano, Ben Dischinger, Christopher Imdieke and Bradley Vender (2006). A Multi-User Desktop Virtual Environment for Teaching Shop-Keeping to Children. Virtual Reality Journal, 9, pp. 49-56. Springer-Verlag. (284 KByte PDF file).

  • Regan, Patrick M. and Brian M. Slator (2002). Case-based Tutoring in Virtual Education Environments. Proceeding of the ACM Conference on Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVE-2002). Bonn, Germany. September 30 - October 2, pp. 2-9. (86 KByte PDF file).

  • Slator, Brian M. and Golam Farooque (1998). The Agents in an Agent-based Economic Simulation Model. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Computer Applications in Industry And Engineering (CAINE-98) November 11-13, 1998, Las Vegas, Nevada USA (International Society for Computers and Their Applications (ISCA)). (94 KByte PDF file)

  • Hooker, Robert, Brian M. Slator (1996). A Model of Consumer Decision Making for a Mud Based Game. Proceedings of the Simulation-Based Learning Technology Workshop at the Third International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS'96). (137 KByte PDF file)

  • Slator, Brian M., Harold "Cliff" Chaput. (1996). Learning by learning Roles: A Virtual Role-Playing Environment for Tutoring. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS'96). Montreal: Springer-Verlag, June 12-14, pp. 668-676. ( Lecture Notes in Computer Science, edited by C. Frasson, G. Gauthier, A. Lesgold). (142 KByte PDF file)


The principal investigator, Dr. Brian M. Slator, is a researcher in Artificial Intelligence, Case-based Reasoning, and Immersive Virtual Environments for Education with a career that spans the last 20 years. You can review his record at Slator: Curriculum Vitae.

He has published two books and several dozen research articles in refereed journals and international conferences.


For history buffs, here are some blasts from the past - old interfaces and such - at Dollar Bay History.

contact: slator@cs.ndsu.edu; modified: 30May02, 18Apr05, 19Dec06