Author Topic: I made an investment game, any thoughs?  (Read 1002 times)

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« on: January 08, 2019, 07:23:44 AM »
So I've finally gotten around to making a game that I've been thinking of doing for the past couple of years: https://theinvestorchallenge.com/

How is it different to other stock market games? Well in this game you're not given a lump sum upfront. Instead you're a wealthy investor with $10 000 a month to invest. If you join the game late, you're given $10 000 for every month since January so it's fair for all. Then you can decide if you'd like some Amazon, Google, Hershey, Mastercard or many other big name companies from the NYSE and the NASDAQ. You can also buy a few of the major index funds, but where's the fun in that! I've even thrown in the option of Bitcoin too to see if it climbs to the moon, or crashes even more!

I try to mirror reality as closely as possible, so the prices are real, the investments costs are real ($4.95 per trade fixed as per many discount brokerages) and there's tax on sales affecting your rankings. 

You can compete against the other players, start a group to challenge your friends, or try to beat the worlds largest index, the S&P 500.

Everything you do is public, but you can delay visibility of your trades by 14 days.

Any thoughts or advice on making the game better/more fun?

Edit: And another rapid 60 second game inspired by the link from @JAYSLOL above. You still have 60 seconds, but it's a 20 year timeframe, and you can buy and sell as many times as you like:
https://theinvestorchallenge.com/games/com_timing.php
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 08:38:42 AM by patrickza »

nereo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9134
  • Location: la belle province
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 08:02:29 AM »

Any thoughts or advice on making the game better/more fun?

It could be a lot of fun, but I wouldn't consider it educational.  It suffers from the same inherent problem that other stock-picking games have, namely that it encourages wild speculation instead of investing. 'Winners' will likely be based on luck rather than skill or patience, and smaller-cap stocks are much more likely to 'win' (or lose - it could go either way afterall). If it's a bear market players who join late in the game will probably win simply because they were given all their cash after a downturn. Players could get the wrong idea and conclude that the best strategy for their money is to never put it into the market (this is what happened when my elementary-school participated in such a stock-picking game during a recession).

What I'd love to see is a game that uses real historical prices but speeds the game up so that each day represents 5 weeks of market time. One week of play would represent a year in the market.  The players shouldn't be able to predict what the market will do next (so perhaps a monte-carlo simulation) but at least then several weeks worth of play would represent several years in the market.


JAYSLOL

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 10:01:51 AM »
This one lets you play a random 10 year period of historical returns - played over 60 seconds.  You can sell once and buy back in once

https://qz.com/487013/this-game-will-show-you-just-how-foolish-it-is-to-sell-stocks-right-now/

ChpBstrd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1169
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 11:00:29 AM »

Any thoughts or advice on making the game better/more fun?

It could be a lot of fun, but I wouldn't consider it educational.  It suffers from the same inherent problem that other stock-picking games have, namely that it encourages wild speculation instead of investing. 'Winners' will likely be based on luck rather than skill or patience, and smaller-cap stocks are much more likely to 'win' (or lose - it could go either way afterall). If it's a bear market players who join late in the game will probably win simply because they were given all their cash after a downturn. Players could get the wrong idea and conclude that the best strategy for their money is to never put it into the market (this is what happened when my elementary-school participated in such a stock-picking game during a recession).

What I'd love to see is a game that uses real historical prices but speeds the game up so that each day represents 5 weeks of market time. One week of play would represent a year in the market.  The players shouldn't be able to predict what the market will do next (so perhaps a monte-carlo simulation) but at least then several weeks worth of play would represent several years in the market.

Perhaps adding the ability to manage multiple portfolios / styles, randomly select historical years, and as another person wrote, speed up time. A full-fledged monte carlo simulator is also very much in need.

An alternative direction: the "I could have been a millionaire if" game, where you enter your era and savings rate, and the system spits back the specific investment mix that would have been ideal in that scenario. Moral of the story - you would have been unlikely to guess the optimal index, so quit trying.

Good luck!

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2019, 08:05:20 AM »
It could be a lot of fun, but I wouldn't consider it educational.  It suffers from the same inherent problem that other stock-picking games have, namely that it encourages wild speculation instead of investing. 'Winners' will likely be based on luck rather than skill or patience, and smaller-cap stocks are much more likely to 'win' (or lose - it could go either way afterall). If it's a bear market players who join late in the game will probably win simply because they were given all their cash after a downturn. Players could get the wrong idea and conclude that the best strategy for their money is to never put it into the market (this is what happened when my elementary-school participated in such a stock-picking game during a recession).
True, but my goal isn't actually to make someone a better stock picker, my goal is to show the futility in picking stocks for the average person.

I've run the South African version of the competition for a few years now (2018 results), and it's amazing how quickly people see that they'd be better off just buying the index!

Most now only use the competition to test their skills and buy the index in reality :)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 08:08:01 AM by patrickza »

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 08:10:44 AM »
This one lets you play a random 10 year period of historical returns - played over 60 seconds.  You can sell once and buy back in once

https://qz.com/487013/this-game-will-show-you-just-how-foolish-it-is-to-sell-stocks-right-now/
That was fun. I hate to say it though, but I'm 4/4 5/5 5/6 6/7 for beating the market, maybe I should try timing in real life ;)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 08:34:11 AM by patrickza »

nereo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9134
  • Location: la belle province
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 08:21:49 AM »
It could be a lot of fun, but I wouldn't consider it educational.  It suffers from the same inherent problem that other stock-picking games have, namely that it encourages wild speculation instead of investing. 'Winners' will likely be based on luck rather than skill or patience, and smaller-cap stocks are much more likely to 'win' (or lose - it could go either way afterall). If it's a bear market players who join late in the game will probably win simply because they were given all their cash after a downturn. Players could get the wrong idea and conclude that the best strategy for their money is to never put it into the market (this is what happened when my elementary-school participated in such a stock-picking game during a recession).
True, but my goal isn't actually to make someone a better stock picker, my goal is to show the futility in picking stocks for the average person.


I'm really not trying to be a rain-cloud, and feel free to take or ignore my advice as you see fit.  I applaud you for undertaking such a development task in the first place.

To rephrase my underlying criticism of these kinds of games - it's been my experience that players learn the exact opposite lesson that they should.  If it's played in a bear market they 'learn' that the best way to win is to not play (e.g. hold cash until the very end).  If it's a bull market the people who win are the ones that take stupid risks and invest heavily in small companies that shoot up 25-50%.
The underlying problem is that one year isn't sufficient time to show that - generally - the index fund will come out on top. Hence my suggestions to find a way of 'speeding up' the investment timeframe so it covers multiple years.

That was my experience playing it twice as a kid and once as a teacher.

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2019, 08:30:31 AM »
Thanks, experiences are really useful. I'll give some thought to how a sped up game could work. I really like the one above that JAYSLOL posted, so maybe something like that could be a starting point for a game like that.

ChpBstrd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1169
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019, 09:15:28 AM »
You know what I wish I could find on the internet? Historic options prices and charts. For whatever reason this is missing, but it seems like it would be relatively easy to calculate past options prices based on the Black-Scholes equation or similar. There's a multi-million dollar mousetrap if you have the skills to build it!

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2019, 11:43:45 PM »
Wish I knew what that meant, but I've never gone near options... Surely there must be something available online already though?

ChpBstrd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1169
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2019, 07:13:42 PM »
Wish I knew what that meant, but I've never gone near options... Surely there must be something available online already though?

Not that I'm aware of anyway. I spent maybe 2h googling the problem, so it might be out there, but nowhere near the surface. For now, I have no way of knowing if a particular option position would have made money or lost money in the past. There are calculators where you can enter the parameters and calculate a value, but nothing like a historical stock chart. It's so weird because it's such a basic problem, yet unsolved.

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2019, 08:37:57 AM »
Okay, here's my take on the 60 second game inspired by the link from @JAYSLOL above. You still have 60 seconds, but it's a 20 year timeframe, and you can buy and sell as many times as you like:
https://theinvestorchallenge.com/games/com_timing.php

Thoughts?

JAYSLOL

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2019, 12:03:55 AM »
Okay, here's my take on the 60 second game inspired by the link from @JAYSLOL above. You still have 60 seconds, but it's a 20 year timeframe, and you can buy and sell as many times as you like:
https://theinvestorchallenge.com/games/com_timing.php

Thoughts?

That's awesome, I like being able to buy and sell multiple times.  Seems like every time I made a buy and sell the gap got bigger, lol.  Would be cool if you did a dollar cost average vs saving and trying to time buys at dips over a 20 year run too

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2019, 07:47:14 AM »
Thanks JAYSLOL. Since you posted I've added the leaderboard for the quick game I finished last night.

Your idea for the dollar cost averaging is also a good one. I'm thinking a 3 way contest:
1) Investment goes all in right at the start
2) Investment is dollar cost averaged in (I was thinking spread over 12 months, but maybe 24 months is better, any thoughts?)
3) User hits buy when he thinks there's a low enough dip.

What do you think?

JAYSLOL

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2019, 09:35:10 AM »
Thanks JAYSLOL. Since you posted I've added the leaderboard for the quick game I finished last night.

Your idea for the dollar cost averaging is also a good one. I'm thinking a 3 way contest:
1) Investment goes all in right at the start
2) Investment is dollar cost averaged in (I was thinking spread over 12 months, but maybe 24 months is better, any thoughts?)
3) User hits buy when he thinks there's a low enough dip.

What do you think?

I love it, that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking, except I had in mind more like 20 or 30 years of investing.  Something that would simulate the results of the average working career of getting paid every 2 weeks and having a certain amount left over to invest which would add up in savings until the user hits "buy", which they could do as frequently or infrequently as they like, and investable surplus could even automatically increase over time to keep up with inflation or some other set amount.   Actually, what would be really awesome would be if the User could choose the number of years of work/investing, the starting investable surplus/paycheck, and the rate of increase of that surplus, and even the speed of which the game is played at. 

Ok, dream-wish-list over, haha, I'm headed over to check out the leader board (is there also a hall of shame? Or an Average results board? Those should definitely be a thing, haha)


abbysmom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2019, 09:06:23 AM »
Very, very cool and fun.  I beat the index on my second try!

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2019, 11:52:18 PM »
I love it, that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking, except I had in mind more like 20 or 30 years of investing.  Something that would simulate the results of the average working career of getting paid every 2 weeks and having a certain amount left over to invest which would add up in savings until the user hits "buy", which they could do as frequently or infrequently as they like, and investable surplus could even automatically increase over time to keep up with inflation or some other set amount.   Actually, what would be really awesome would be if the User could choose the number of years of work/investing, the starting investable surplus/paycheck, and the rate of increase of that surplus, and even the speed of which the game is played at. 

Ok, dream-wish-list over, haha, I'm headed over to check out the leader board (is there also a hall of shame? Or an Average results board? Those should definitely be a thing, haha)
So over the weekend I tried to see if I could code your wishlist. Take a look here: https://theinvestorchallenge.com/games/com_game_monthly.php

Let me know what you think. If you like it I'll add it to the site menu and give it a scoreboard too.

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2019, 11:54:28 PM »
Very, very cool and fun.  I beat the index on my second try!
Thanks abbysmom.

Yeah it does seem easy enough to beat it every now and then. The trouble is that when I lose to it, I tend to lose in a big way, so I don't think it's something I'd try in the real world!

DaKini

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 329
  • Location: Germany, Munich area
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #18 on: Today at 04:04:33 AM »
Very educational and fun.mi beat it only the first try, because i got lucky. :)

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 505
  • Age: 40
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #19 on: Today at 07:04:17 AM »
Thanks Dakini, fun and educational was pretty much exactly what I was going for. I've got some ideas for other games with different lessons to learn that are in the works.

JAYSLOL

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
Re: I made an investment game, any thoughs?
« Reply #20 on: Today at 04:46:12 PM »
I love it, that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking, except I had in mind more like 20 or 30 years of investing.  Something that would simulate the results of the average working career of getting paid every 2 weeks and having a certain amount left over to invest which would add up in savings until the user hits "buy", which they could do as frequently or infrequently as they like, and investable surplus could even automatically increase over time to keep up with inflation or some other set amount.   Actually, what would be really awesome would be if the User could choose the number of years of work/investing, the starting investable surplus/paycheck, and the rate of increase of that surplus, and even the speed of which the game is played at. 

Ok, dream-wish-list over, haha, I'm headed over to check out the leader board (is there also a hall of shame? Or an Average results board? Those should definitely be a thing, haha)
So over the weekend I tried to see if I could code your wishlist. Take a look here: https://theinvestorchallenge.com/games/com_game_monthly.php

Let me know what you think. If you like it I'll add it to the site menu and give it a scoreboard too.

Dude, that blows me away!  Thats exactly what i had in mind, so cool!!  I played it a bunch and lost by a little to immediate investing a couple times, lost really hard a couple times and beat it only once by only 1% when i set it to 5 year @ 180 seconds to give me the maximum reaction time.  Great job!