You’ll never believe all the societal problems Jeff Bezos could fix with his personal fortune.
Okay, you actually probably would, if you keep track of the massive, immoral and increasingly growing fortunes amassed by today’s modern billionaires. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is worth about $150 billion, depending on current market fluctuations and all that jive. He makes roughly $150 thousand or so a minute, which is more than twice the median household income in America this year. His personal wealth is higher than the GDP of 16 different US states. Jeff Bezos is worth more than both Dakotas and Wyoming—combined. He could probably buy Vermont five times over. (I don’t know how money works, but I think that math works out.) It is just an unconscionable sum that we’ve let this man accrue, and other than letting us buy stuff we don’t need with a single click when we’re drunk at night (below list price and with free shipping), he’s never done anything for us, the people of America.
It’s hard to wrap your head around a number as big as $150 billion. What could he do with that money, beyond turning most of New England into his own private summer home? Kris Ligman, a game critic and editor (who, yes, full disclosure, I’ve known and respected for years), wanted to make it easy for everybody to understand exactly what Bezos could do with that money to help the world. The result is You Are Jeff Bezos, a free Twine game that puts you, the player, in charge of Bezos’s fortune. It’s like Brewster’s Millions, but instead it’s $150 billion (and also there’s no baseball involved).
A single quick playthrough lays out in direct terms what Bezos could do with that money to help the world. He could fund Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria. He could give every homeless person a place to live. He could even (and you might want to shield your eyes if you’re rich yourself) pay his own taxes, or at least what they would be if he paid out based on his tax bracket without any other kind of accountant shenanigans.
Ligman’s game is a piece of advocacy—it’s hard to play it and not want to see some massive changes to the tax code and the government’s approach to personal wealth management—but it’s not too dry or serious. There are jokes here, some of them good, and although I would’ve cut the anime jokes myself (I just don’t understand the references, sorry), that humor nicely counterbalances any shock and disgust you might feel while blowing through Bezos’s billions.
Of course, the game is free, so stop reading about it and go try it out. And then clear some space in your wallet for that DSA card you’ll wind up getting afterward.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.