For parents interested in teaching their children the complexities of the stock market, two popular board games, Bull Market, by the Great Canadian Game Company Inc., and Stock Market Tycoon, by Vida Games LLC, are good ventures.
Bull Market, for ages 12 to adult, centers on four hypothetical companies. The object of the game is to amass wealth by buying and selling stock. Each transaction affects all players. When a player buys stock, the price increases; when a player sells, it decreases. Stocks designated “bull market stocks” increase in price at three times the rate of other stocks.
The players roll dice and move around the board, experiencing the rise and fall of stock prices, initial public offerings, stock splits, takeovers and buyouts, and such risks as penalties for insider trading, capital gains taxes, corporate bankruptcies, and the end of the bull market. Designed for two to six players, the game requires different participants to act as rules keeper, banker, and stock-price mover. The rulebook includes a helpful glossary, but it does not explain clearly when a player may actually buy and sell stocks or how to incorporate initial public offerings. A complete description of the game and rules for more advanced play are available at www.bullmarket.ca.
Bull Market received the 2003 Parents’ Choice Recommended seal and the 2003 Seal of Approval from the National Parenting Center. In addition to teaching how the stock market works, the game reinforces money management skills, mathematical know-how, and decision-making strategies. It is appropriate for gifted middle school and high school students and could easily be used in economics curricula. I offer one caveat: rather than focus positively on the risks and rewards of investing in stocks, the company markets the game as a way to teach “the balance of greed and fear.”
Stock Market Tycoon, a similar game but for ages 8 to adult, uses stocks for ten actual companies (including Amazon.com and Home Depot), which encourages players to track those stocks in the newspaper and build on the knowledge they gain in the game. Before play begins, each player sets up a portfolio on a stock certificate sheet, using the share prices listed on ticker tape surrounding the playing board. Players keep track of their portfolios as they buy and sell throughout the game. The player designated the “exchange” records the price changes for each stock; the “broker” handles all money transactions.
The players roll dice and move around the board, following the instructions on the spaces where they land. Sometimes they must trade; sometimes they may choose whether or not to trade. They may accrue stock options and dividends, but as capital gains taxes and luxury taxes restrict their cash flow, the players may have to sell stocks to meet their obligations. As in Bull Market, any change in stock prices affects all players, so the players must develop investment strategies and use mathematical calculations to keep track of their assets throughout the game. Drawing a “market card” changes the price of a stock up or down, while “day trading cards” allow the players to participate in risky wagers. The game also has a set of “dream and reality cards,” which affect cash reserves with directives unrelated to the stock market, such as “Pay $25,000 tuition” or “Collect $100,000 for sale of house.”
Stock Market Tycoon, a fun, effective teaching tool, is appropriate for elementary and middle school children.
Sarah Boone holds a master’s in teaching and certification in gifted education. She teaches at Meredith College.