Aug 03, 2022

Interactive: Think you can beat the market?

It's easy when you start out as investor to believe that you can "time the market." I remember teaching an investing class and showing them a series of stock charts. So many had such strong conviction that an upward trending chart would continue on that pattern. The concept of reversion to the mean is not one that is obvious to a high schooler. 

These two interactives should help to dispel that notion as students will make buy and sell decisions in the face of market volatility (squiggly line across the screen). The games end by comparing the student's results with the results had they done nothing. 

Outsmart the Market starts you with $10,000, drops you into a random point in the NASDAQ history and allows a player to make as many buy/sell decisions as they 30 seconds. Occasionally a news event will pop-up which temporarily slows the graph down. At the end, students see a screen that identifies the10 years of the NASDAQ that just passed them by in half a minute. If they beat buy and hold strategy, they still get a message saying, "Don't risk it." 


Quartz Stock Market gameFirst it was outside the paywall, then it was inside a paywall, now it's back outside the paywall:) How's this game different from Outsmart the Market: it uses the S&P 500 as it's stock index (vs. NASDAQ which is more volatile), you start the game with $10,000 invested in the market but only get one sell and then one buy decision, and it moves at a bit of a slower pace. Oh, there's a market commentator who likes to taunt you into acting: 

Here's the end screen: 

Questions for students after playing each game 5 times: 

  • How did each game make you "feel?"
  • How many of the five times did you "beat" the market for each game? 
  • Did you have a strategy that helped you decide when to buy and when to sell? 
  • A savvy investor once said, "It's time in the a market, not timing the market." After playing these games do you agree/disagree with them? 
  • Did you notice any differences in how much stock prices moved when comparing the two games? 


The number game in the NGPF Arcade? It's STAX where students make 20 years of investment decisions in 20 minutes. Play STAX today





About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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