I recently came across the website buildyourstax.com which provides a free online stock market simulation game.
According to NGPF (the makers of the game), Stax is meant to teach students how to invest using an engaging, fast-paced game in which students will make 20 years of investment decisions in….20 minutes. Players can choose among stocks, bonds and index funds while also learning about the importance of having an emergency fund as “life happens” to them in this simulation.
The game takes data from a real 20 year period this is really cool – it let’s you know which 20 year period after the game is finished. This allows you to see how you would have reacted if you were to be invested in that timeframe.
You can either play the game as a group or individually against the computer. When the game is done, there is a neat summary of various data sets that may be interesting to you such as your best performing asset class and your portfolio mix.
Whilst the concept is good and teaches players about different asset classes and the ups and downs of markets, the game certainly has a few flaws.
The biggest problem for me is how quickly the game progresses. As 20 years is compressed into 20 minutes, it is hard to experience the emotional highs and lows of gaining and losing (fantasy) money. You need to make decisions too quickly ad this is the opposite to what you would do in real life.
Another drawback of the game is to do with the individual stocks you can buy and sell. There is no data on the stocks of the companies and thus you are essentially going in blind. The individual stocks almost seem to move at random. This is the way most people see the stock market but clued up investors know a stock is just an ownership in a real business and the stock moves according to how well the company is doing. It is only after the 20 years passes that the game reveals what the individual stocks were.
So whilst Stax has not yet been perfected, it is still fun to play. The game is totally free so set aside 20 mins of your time and have a go. See if you have what it takes to beat the computer.