A Beginner’s Guide to Wall Street


Welcome to Robinhood: a digital door into the stock market. (Source: Lauren Dong (IV))

Stock markets are arguably one of the most confusing concepts to grasp. There are so many coinciding graphs indicating different trends that each seem to be moving with a mind of their own. Luckily, developing stock market games further exposes young people to how stocks work. These games guide students through the chaos of charts and numbers with instructional videos, and they allow students to practice live simulations of the United States stock market. Stock market games engage students in financial literacy, simulate real-life scenarios and indicate a growing potential to integrate educational games into classroom education.

While most people consider games to be pastimes or distractions, when used correctly, they can be extremely effective at teaching students. Alex Velichkov (I), who focused his Senior Capstone project on educational games, notes that for a simulation to be successful, it must “be realistic and […] be able to compare [you] to other people.” Stock market games offer both of these by simulating the U.S. stock market and allowing classmates to compete against each other.

Amid the pandemic, many students have faced challenges with maintaining focus and attention in class. A more engaging tool for teaching, like stock market games, can recapture the attention of students. By having an interactive menu and live feedback, students are able to receive instant results about what they are learning. The competitive aspect of stock market games can also motivate students to accumulate the most money.

Although investing is an important skill for adulthood, personal finance is often not taught in schools. Even at Boston Latin School, Economics is only available to Classes II and I, and AP Economics is offered in preference to Class I. This lack of finance courses available to younger students is detrimental, according to The Balance. Investing as early as possible is also key to seeing large returns because investments will compound onto themselves, and people will be able to have more savings for the future.

Stock market games also teach critical thinking skills that can be applied in any endeavor. People interested in gaining more money have to formulate strategies instead of just randomly investing. Roan Wilcox (IV), president of the Finance and Economics Club, explains that stock market games allow people “to learn about investing in a low-pressure environment, rather than starting off with actual money and facing the possibility of tangible losses.” Platforms such as these allow people to experiment with different strategies that they would have otherwise foregone with real money.

Nothing, however, is flawless. Velichkov notes, “You can lose money really quickly,” which would discourage many people from continuing to play the game. Luckily, this can be fixed by giving users a weekly “allowance” which ensures that they will always have money to continue investing. Even if people quit, their experience playing the game still teaches them how to not be risky investors in the future, and the best part is that they are not losing real money.

Others may argue that stock market games promote gambling due to the large role of luck. Even though there is some luck involved, the vast majority of money that people make from the stock market will always be tied to something tangible that is not pure luck. For example, if Apple announces a new iPhone, it is very likely that Apple’s stock price will rise. By playing these stock market games, people learn that investing is not solely based on chance. Conversely, they are able to develop prediction and money-making strategies that can be applicable to life’s processes.