Ever since someone thought of this absurd but genius idea of getting a bunch of people collectively play Pokémon on Twitch, several games have enjoyed the same crowdsourced gaming treatment — from Dark Souls to Street Fighter II to Tetris to Halo: Combat Evolved.
For the uninitiated, the "Twitch Plays" series started in 2014 when an anonymous programmer let Twitch users play Pokémon Red. Each user could send a command, which then counted as a single move. This collective method of play allowed for a chaotic, if entertaining playthrough of the beloved Pokémon title.
A new game called Stock Stream employs the same method, allowing Twitch viewers to play the stock market — with somebody else's money, at that.
Twitch Plays The Stock Market
The game, which went live only recently, lets viewers of the stream cast a vote every five minutes on which stocks to buy or sell, using $50,000 provided by a software developer. Whichever gets the most votes is automatically initiated via Robinhood, a free trading app. Joining is as easy as writing "!sell" or "!buy"
Mike Roberts, an Amazon engineer, is the programmer bankrolling Stock Stream, entrusting thousands of dollars to random Twitch users, letting them invest in whatever they please. It's bonkers of course — but it plays into the crowdsource gaming concept supremely well.
This time, however, it's vastly different. While Pokémon had very little risk because of its mostly tongue-in-cheek nature, the stock exchange is a much more serious business. In Stock Stream, players actually play with real money, even if it's not theirs.
Why Stock Stream Was Created
Roberts claims Stock Stream is the first co-op multiplayer that uses real money to play the stock market. To date, more than 170,000 have tuned in to the stream, seeing his funds rise or fall depending on which direction the Twitch chat goes.
For Roberts, Stock Stream is an experiment — he wants to see how players will spend his money. Would trolls filter in and purposefully spoil the game? Which stocks will people vote for?
"I thought people were just gonna waste money," said Roberts. "That was my first thought." Roberts originally thought of tasking players to double the initial funds, but through this, trolls would probably have more reason to sabotage the game.
Roberts explains that the most he could lose is $25,000 — a FINRA regulation. If an account's funds dip below that number, they can no longer trade. If he loses that much, though, at least it's tax-deductible.
Just a day after going live, Discord servers flocked to the channel. The popularity might owe to its inherent realism — you'd expect a game with real-world consequences would be mired by trolls attempting in concert to throw the game, but there are people actually discussing in earnest the best way to go about investing.
"I wanted something with real-world effects, real-world consequences for what you type into that chat," said Roberts.
Thoughts about Stock Stream? If you had $50,000, would you trust the internet to use it to play the stock market? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!