ByAna Valens, writer at
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

Ever risked a large sum on the stock market? Try $50,000 in the hands of thousands. Welcome to Stock Stream, the latest "Twitch Plays" craze where hundreds partake in the world's "first cooperative multiplayer stock market game using real money."

Despite the game's high risk, playing is, in fact, incredibly simple. Play is divided into voting rounds, a 5 minute period where players choose to buy or sell shares. The top buy or sell command is then executed and one share is bought or sold. Compared to some of the more complicated recent Twitch streams, this is very easy to participate in.

[Source: Stock Stream]
[Source: Stock Stream]

Besides collectively making money, there are also scoring rules for individual players:

  • At the end of each 5 minute voting round, the system calculates which trade a player voted for the most times, and stores it for 5 more minutes.
  • After those 5 minutes are up, trade is scored based on the return an investment made.
  • If players buy a stock and the stock goes up, or sell a stock and the stock goes down, they get points.
  • If players buy a stock and the stock goes down, or sell a stock and the stock goes up, they lose points.

And did we mention that the game uses real money? It feels important to reiterate how crazy that is. The game's creator, an Amazon software engineer named Mike, invested $50,000 out of his own pocket into the game. Mike's goal is simple: see if players improve his stock portfolio or if he loses money. The stream has to stay above $25,000 to continue, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's rules, so it's game over if the stream loses half of Mike's initial investment.

Keep an eye on that number at the top middle of the stream.

It's Not Crowd Funding, It's Crowd Investing

Stock Stream is completely different from basically any form of previous investing. For the first time in history, thousands of non-experts are getting together to invest one man's savings. Unlike other internet stock innovations, Stock Stream isn't about giving people easy access to invest personal funds, it's about seeing how a truly democratic group can perform in the stock market when given the tools and platform to play.

As it turns out, that democratic process includes a lot of funding towards gaming and tech stocks, like AMD, TSLA, or Google. It also means a lot of players are buying into joke names: like GF, SALT, CAKE, and CUZ. But Stock Stream shows how a group of people would manage a collective portfolio when given the opportunity, and it's a pretty neat social experiment. And it can teach game designers a lot about the future of gamification: that is, creating games out of real-life and major tasks.

That said, Stock Stream is probably not for the feint of heart. Mike himself feared that he'd lose a lot of money at first.

"Before today, I was a bit skeptical — thought I might lose money quickly, but things seem OK," Mike told Polygon. "Now that a lot of the money is diversified, the swings in value should start getting bigger. I ran some simulations with some made-up data, and calculated that [the stream] would last at least a couple months."

But as an experiment, it's a pretty excellent gem. If you're interested in giving it a shot, feel free to play. Just don't try this one on your own.

Are you playing Stock Stream? Share your best plays in the comments below.


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