You have 20 years. You can either play against other humans in a group, or you can play against the computer. Every six months, you'll receive $4,000 to invest any way you choose. The game calls this "pocket cash." Throughout the game, as time passes, you're eventually opened up to a total of seven different types of investments in which you can put your money to work. They are:
- Savings account
- Certificate of Deposit (CD)
- Index fund
- Individual stocks
- Government bonds
- Crop commodity
As the game goes on, you'll be confronted with unexpected expenses that pop up in real, everyday life, costs like home repairs, family emergencies, and speeding tickets. Sometimes, you might gain money unexpectedly, too, like winning a prize or contest, or finding money on the ground.
At the end of the game, you'll see stats like how much money in total you were given to invest, how much you gained or lost from various life events, how much you earned from your investments, and what your best and worst investment performers were. What's also really neat is that the game simulates a real 20-year period in market history. For example, I recently played this game twice in one sitting (I've played it quite a few times), and I learned at the end that I was playing with real data covering the periods 1991-2011, and then 1986-2006. The game also reveals at the end the names of the real-life individual stocks that the data was generated from. During the game, the individual stocks are given fake names.
A fun and highly-educational game! I really enjoy it, and I highly recommend it to middle school, high school, and even to college students and adults that want to learn or sharpen their skills and understanding of personal finance and investing.
Discussion and Reflection Questions
Try playing this game twice, back-to-back, either against other human players in a group game, or against the computer, your choice. Briefly compare the two games. Did you notice yourself making any changes in the second game compared to how you played the first? Would you say you had an intentional strategy you were testing, or would you say you were making decisions more on a whim? What did the other players/the computer maybe do differently compared to you? Whether you won against the other players/the computer or not, did you at least finish the second game with more money than you did after the first? What could you maybe take away from the other players/the computer - what did you learn from them and how they played?
What do you think are the safest investment opportunities in the game? Why? The riskiest opportunities in the game? Why?
Do you think the safest investment opportunities always provide the best return on your money? Why or why not?
What investment do you personally find most interesting? Why? The least interesting? Why?
What are the major risks involved in purchasing individual stocks? How does buying into an index fund help lower these big risks?
After playing this game, what do you want to learn more about? How can you make this learning possible - what are some resources you can consult, who can you talk to, etc.?
If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy our previous post, "Difference between stocks and bonds." Feel free to browse our "Personal finance" category for our full catalog of posts, ideas, tips and strategies, resources, reflections, and more simulation games.