Gamification has been something of a buzzword in trading platform circles in recent years. The trend was kickstarted with the launch of the first eToro platform in 2007, which incorporated graphic trading visualisations which conceptualised the markets as being, for example, a race between currencies or a tug of war.
Then came social trading, which to a large extent stole the thunder from the gamification wave in terms of being the ‘next big thing’. It didn’t kill it off completely, however, and there are signs that the move away from dry charts and statistics may be regaining momentum. In particular, a new app entitled ‘Beat Wall Street’, which takes the process of market speculation out of the real world and into an altogether more welcoming virtual one, looks set to get the ball rolling on gamified trading once again.
One of the main stumbling blocks for many people with an interest in trading that want to take it further is the sheer complexity of it all.
Should I trade currencies? Which ones? How much leverage should I use? What does ‘leverage’ even mean?
These are the kind of questions that would, in most cases, get the same reaction out of anyone who is suddenly presented with a seemingly-endless amount of homework to do. They might kid themselves on that they have the time and resources to commit to being a successful trader, but after a short while real life takes over and the trading idea is put on the backburner.
It’s these people – who it’s fair to say represent the vast majority of those with an interest in trading – that many of the current trading technologies are aspiring to woo. Take social trading, for instance, which is the trading equivalent of the classroom swot selling his homework answers to the sporty kids. Why spend time studying the markets when you can get better results by copying someone who knows more about them than you do? It opens up market participation to a much wider swathe of the public, providing a much more gentle learning curve while retaining a degree of participation.
In a way, this is the same thing that Beat Wall Street sets out to do, but with a stronger educational emphasis. It’s a hugely simplified version of the trading experience, which still retains a basis in the reality of the stock market. Players begin the game with one free portfolio, and they can trade big-name European stocks across nine industries, going long or short. Whoever makes the most money at the end of a competition is the winner.
Although it is a highly simplified version of the real trading experience, it is entirely based on the reality of the stock market, using realtime quotes from Bats CHI-X. This realism is what makes it a highly useful tool for teaching the basics of trading, and it is already being used in over 500 schools for this purpose.
The games are arranged in a similar way to Fantasy Football, in that there is a single mainstream competition with a big cash prize, and several smaller competitions such as school, team, and country challenges, or private competitions between friends. The team challenge mode, in which teams of a minimum of five traders compete against one another, may be of particular interest to schools that are using the app, as it will enable finance schools to compete for bragging rights in much the same way as school sports teams do.
The Trading Console
In many ways, the main trading console is similar to the types that are used by functional trading platforms, with a list of stocks along with a few key attributes such as price, price change in currency and percentage terms, and trading volume, along with the option to buy or sell.
There are no complicated trade orders here – you simply buy if you think it’s going to go up, and sell if you think it’s going to go down. However, position sizes can be altered in step-size increments, so you can still use techniques such as scaling in and out of trades.
You can also filter the equities by industry and country, and sort them by attributes so that, for example, you see all the most expensive stocks at the top, or the ones with the biggest trading volume.
Reports and analysis
Rather than requiring you to leave the app to visit the Bloomberg website, for example, Beat Wall Street provides its own reporting and analysis on the stocks that are available to trade. This feature provides information about the company in question, price charts, and a host of useful statistics to help inform your trades. Of course, it can pay to be more thorough and look at other sources of insight and data, but all the basics are here.
Where you rank in the game is largely dependent on the return from your portfolio. At the start of the game, you have a million dollars, and if you make a $100,000 profit, you will have a 10% return. The player that has the highest return at the end of the game is the winner.
These rankings update every 15 minutes during European market hours, and the game ends each month with all the stocks being sold automatically. After the end of the game, the next trading day begins with everyone having the same amount of money that they started with.
Points are also awarded for completing various tasks in the game, such as winning challenges or trophies. They also accumulate the more you play, and the amount of trades that you make, thereby incentivising regular involvement.
The high score section of the app allows you to see your previous results, and those of your rivals. These results can be shared via Twitter or Facebook, which can help to bring more of your friends into the game and allow you to bask in your achievements.
The game itself is completely free, and while there are in-app purchases available, these do not give you any advantage in the game as such. Rather, they are designed to provide players with fresh challenges to further test their skills and make things a bit more interesting. These include the options to add extra portfolios, combine all your portfolios into one, or reset your portfolio.
In short, Beat Wall Street is a fantastic learning and teaching tool for those engaged in trading education, streamlining the stock trading experience in such a way that it lets the big picture shine through, and providing a fun competitive element. If you are just dipping your toe into the trading waters for the first time, and are looking for a gentle, accessible introduction, then it’s well worth downloading Beat Wall Street from the App Store or Google Play for your tablet or mobile device. You can also follow @BeatWallStreet on Twitter to find out the latest news and chatter related to the game.
I am a writer based in London, specialising in finance, trading, investment, and forex. Aside from the articles and content I write for IntelligentHQ, I also write for euroinvestor.com, and I have also written educational trading and investment guides for various websites including tradingquarter.com. Before specialising in finance, I worked as a writer for various digital marketing firms, specialising in online SEO-friendly content. I grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and I have an MA in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and I am a lead musician in a band. You can find me on twitter @pmilne100.