In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, traders work on the floor, Thursday, April 15, 2021.(Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, traders work on the floor, Thursday, April 15, 2021.(Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Confused about stock trading? Ask your children what they’re doing on Roblox’s Adopt Me

Apps like Robinhood have ggamified’ financial trading

The stock of GameStop, a video game retailer, was trading around US$20 before becoming a household name in early 2021. It suddenly rose to nearly $350 per share, without any fundamental changes for the company – and brought the wild world of cyber-investing into the spotlight.

Apps like Robinhood have “gamified” financial trading and provided bored and COVID-isolated gamers with a financial outlet for their speculative urges.

There’s nothing special about what’s happening in a historical financial sense. Trading is fundamental to human society, whether it’s physical or digital. Some evolutionary psychologists even believe humans’ need to deal with the complexity of trading between early societies affected the development of the modern human brain.

Figuring out the value of an asset is hard, and perceptions of value can differ widely for different investors. That’s why so many people will jump on a hot trend or stock – it’s easier to follow a crowd that’s already decided there’s some value to be had there.

The problem with that approach is that value is so subjective. In free markets, the price of a stock is really whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

But speculating and trading are not the same thing as investing, as anyone who lost money on an ill-advised GameStop bet can tell you. Research and due diligence are much safer ways to evaluate the potential value of a company than strategies predicated on message boards and hope. Once you understand a firm’s underlying value and what drives it, you’re in a much better position to figure out if its stock is suitably priced.

The online Reddit chat rooms that power the trading in GameStop started with enthusiasts but have grown to include sophisticated players willing to take advantage of the inexperienced. That’s also nothing new, which is why financial markets are highly regulated. The unscrupulous have been relieving the trusting of their valuables since well before stock markets appeared in the coffee and teahouses of Europe in the 1500s to finance the exploration and trade to “new worlds.”

Speculating on these apps isn’t unlike children’s games like as Roblox’s Adopt Me game – which also became hugely popular during the pandemic. The game lets players trade pets with each other. The most rare and in-demand pets are the most expensive. All pets have a rating that helps kids ballpark their value – not unlike a brokerage analyst or a credit rating analyzing a company.

Players don’t always agree with that assessment of value though, and that’s what “makes a market.” There are great opportunities to acquire amazing pets that a player considers far more valuable.

But anyone who isn’t aware of the ratings or a pet’s true value can make a bad trade and accidently give away something really good – or agree to a trade that leaves them with a dud.

Not unlike what’s happening with Robinhood and GameStop.

You can learn more about Adoopt Me and what it teaches us about real-life trading here.

Romina Maurino is a freelance journalist and the editor of The Financial Pipeline.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Financial Pipeline

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

ALERT seized drugs and a variety of guns from a home in Lacombe on May 5 after an investigation. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)
Guns and drugs seized in Lacombe

Lacombe Police Service and ALERT worked together in a joint investigation

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations

Most Read