Gary M. Kaplan
Blue Chip Software isn't making claims about Millionaire's ability to sharpen your stock market investment skill, but it's certainly a vehicle for learning investment finance, and a whole lot of fun. It's available on disk for the Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, Apple II and III, among other computers.
When you first play Millionaire, you begin at the Novice level with a $10,000 stake. With it, you can buy and sell 15 different big name stocks in five industry groups. If you like the look of oil and gas, you can own shares in Conoco, Exxon, and Mobil. If you are feeling bullish about the auto industry, General Motors, American Motors, and Bendix are up for grabs. A retail group, a heavy industry group, and (since it's a computer game) a computer group, round out the industries. Purchase decisions are based on a steady stream of business information you'll have to wade through.
Millionaire creates 91 weeks of stock market fluctuations and starts you out at week 14 with access to the preceding weeks' data. From there, you're on your own — either to the good life, or the poorhouse.
Reading The Market
Analysis is the key to your future. And, just like the real market, there's plenty to examine. Each week you'll be given the variables creating the market's present environment. These include corporate histories; a stock market graph showing the overall market trend; industry group graphs showing how each industry is doing; individual stock graphs; stock price tables; and a News Journal with company announcements which may affect business.
A news item might inform you of an IBM technology innovation. That could well mean a rise in IBM stock, but could also affect the entire industry. The value of Control Data and NCR stocks might well tumble.
After you've digested the current state of the market, and determined what is relevant to your potential investments, you're ready to make a transaction. Taking a cue from Wall Street, Millionaire is a little coldhearted to those at the Novice level, where you work on a strict cash basis. If you want to buy stocks, you've got to put up the actual greenbacks.
Shrewd maneuvering will propel you to the Investor ($12,000) plateau. Since you're building your fortune, options are opening up. At this level, you can buy on margin (borrow a percentage of the total purchase price of your stocks). Even greater flexibility comes if your fortune increases.
A Speculator ($18,000) is eligible to use call options. They assume a significant rise in a stock and allow the buyer to purchase at a slightly higher price at a later date. A Professional ($40,000) may use put options. They are used when you predict a significant decline in a stock and allow selling the stock at a slightly lower price. Players at the Broker level ($100,000) can borrow significantly from their net worth.
The road to riches is not smooth by any means. Millionaire's Wall Street is full of traps, and you might fall into any number of them. Your margin accounts may be called, or your capital could erode due to high interest payments and overextended credit. And there are those nasty brokerage commissions and taxes which take a bite out of your purse.
At week 91, your assets are converted to "cash," and a new game can be started at your new financial status. It's a long road before you reach the Millionaire level, but with persistence and a bit of wisdom, it's possible. Wealth — even on Wall Street — usually takes time to accumulate, and Millionaire recognizes that financial reality.
Only one person can play at a time, but the names and status of 14 players are retained. (Two or more can play together, providing they come to a consensus on investment decisions.) You can also stop and save the game, picking up where you left off later. Actual game time is approximately two hours.
Millionaire is challenging and provides quite an education in the art, or science, of playing the stock market. It's ideal for beginners because it grounds them in market basics. People with market experience will like it because it's frustratingly true-to-life. For anyone, it's a lot of fun.
Blue Chip Software
19537 Wells Drive
Tarzana, CA 91356
$59.95 to $69.95 (disk only)