Title:
Bubble Street, the board game about finance and the stock market
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The key novelty of this financial game is that the prices are not fixed during the entire game, nor are randomly determined in an exogenous way, although some random disturbances interact with the endogenously determined prices. Players are encouraged to buy shares to make prices go up and sell to make a quick profit, but their plans can be disrupted by unexpected events. The mathematical function depicts in a formal way the operation of the board game:


PY=AX+U

Being:

  • PY=Price of “Y” share.
  • X=Quantity of “Y” shares traded.
  • A=Slope (or constant multiplier, that combined with the given value of X makes PY move upwards).
  • U=Random disturbance (positive or negative).




Inventors:
Ruiz Devesa, Domenec Miquel (Kaduna, NG)
Application Number:
12/657482
Publication Date:
07/28/2011
Filing Date:
01/22/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Domenec Miquel (Chapel Hill, NC, US)
Claims:
1. The game's theme focuses specifically in the formation of asset bubbles, which is an original feature since other financial games do not specifically focus on artificial bubbles as a result of herd behavior.

2. In addition, this game is not about buying property in the real estate market, although one of the markets is the land market. The dynamic of this market, like the other ones in the game is purely speculative. It has nothing to do with building houses and hotels or paying/earning rent. The game could be played without the land market or it could be given a different denomination, and this will not alter it in any significant way. Hence it is not a game about the real estate market nor about paying/earning rent on real estate property.

3. This financial board game represents a methodological innovation as well, since other financial games keep asset prices fixed throughout the game or they vary according to pure randomness (i.e. by rolling a dice), hence the variations are not related to the player's actions. In “Bubble Street, The Board Game about Finance and the Stock Market”, there is a new and original feature, the endogenous determination of assets prices by the player's themselves. To the best of the author's knowledge, there is no other financial game that is based in the dynamics set out in this game's rules. In the first place, these dynamics imply that the asset prices do not remain fixed during the game but vary. Secondly, the variations are not determined randomly (i.e. by rolling a dice), but are mostly determined by the trading decisions of the players themselves following a mathematical function of the type: PY=AX, Being: PY=Price of Share “Y”, X=Quantity of “Y” shares traded, and A=Slope (or constant multiplier, that combined with the given value of X makes PY move upwards. According to the formula, there is a positive correlation between the quantity of shares traded and the unit price or price per share. This means that the more shares traded, the higher the price at hence the market value. The players will realize that, but they are unaware of the precise value of the slope (A), which varies across sectors. The players will have an incentive to buy shares in order to increase artificially the price but also to get out at the right moment, before a rival sells and the value crashes. Hence, unlike is common in other board games, the prices are not randomly determined by the roll of the dice or any other external device. They are endogenously determined by the player's actions, and this done in a practical way. The players do not have of course to run any mathematical function. The game's tables, known only to the banker, establish a precise equivalence between any possible amount of shares traded and the corresponding prices. These are recorded in the values tables.

4. Finally, as a yet another novel feature, as in the real world, unexpected events can alter the workings of the market. This is achieved by the uncertainty cards, which can interfere in the prices as determined by the described mathematical function. This is also an original feature, since no other known financial games allows for interaction between random and not random effects in determining price movements. Formally, this random disturbance (U) is introduced in the mathematical function in the following way: PY=AX+U. U can have a positive or a negative value, depending on the particular event described by the uncertainty card. This adds a fair amount of realism to the game, since in the real world prices sometimes change for reasons beyond the control of the individual investor.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This invention was granted a Provisional Patent, Application No. 61/204,295; Filing Date, Jan. 6, 2009; Mailing Date, Jan. 27, 2009.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

“Bubble Street, the Board Game about Finance and the Stock Market” was invented by the author, Domenec Devesa, on Dec. 26, 2008 in Chapel Hill, N.C., after a family dinner on Christmas Day, where a discussion took place on the vagaries of the stock market and the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. On Jan. 2, 2009, the materials related to an Application for Provisional Patent were mailed to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

“Bubble Street, the Board Game about Finance and the Stock Market” is a metaphor of the workings of the financial markets. As such, its main aim is educational, but it is also mean to entertain. The invention is composed by a specifically and originally designed board, cards, phony paper money and shares, and a set of rules. The players are stock investors, and hence they can buy and sell shares. The purpose of the game is to end up being the richest investor, after a certain number of rounds are played. Although the game has a random component, due to the use of the dice to move throughout the board and the existence of uncertainty cards that introduce unexpected developments in the financial markets, the asset prices are mainly determined by the players themselves, through their decisions of buying and selling. The prices movements, like in the real world, can be quite dramatic.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Contents of the Game

One square board with 30 small numbered squares and 8 big non-numbered squares (which represent economic sectors that are not moving spots: land and property, oil, foodstuffs, gold, energy, auto industry, high tech and textiles). The board can be made of wood, carton or paper.

The four economic sectors placed at the center surrounding the square labeled “Bank of Deposit and Interest” bear a percentage in the bottom corner. The percentages are 12% for high tech, 10% for energy, 8% for auto industry and 8% for textile.

The board has 9 numbered squares in the vertical axis and 8 numbered squares in the horizontal axis. There is 1 small non-numbered square made up of broken lines adjacent to square number 1, labeled “START”.

The numbers corresponding to each one of the 30 numbered squares are placed in the left bottom corner.

The recommended minimum dimensions of the board are 40 cm×45 cm.

The 30 numbered squares are divided as follows:

14 “UNCERTAINTY” squares (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29).
6 “BUY” squares (5, 13, 18, 22, 26 and 30)
6 “SELL” squares (3, 7, 11, 15, 20 and 28)
4 “BUY & SELL” squares (1, 9, 16 and 24)

At least 100 uncertainty cards. These cards have a title in capitals and a message for the reader. Examples of these cards are:

    • “BUY”/“You can use this card to BUY shares in this round”. (25 cards)
    • “SELL”/“You can use this card to SELL shares in this round”. (15 cards)
    • “BUY AND/OR SELL”/“You can use this card to BUY and/or SELL shares in this round”. There must be at least 10 of these cards. (10 cards)
    • “BUY”/“You can use this card to BUY shares AND or GOLD AT 500 $ per ounce in this round”. There must be no more than 5 of these cards. (5 cards)
    • “GOLD”/“You can BUY Gold ounces in this round”. (1 card)
    • “GOLD”/“You can SELL Gold ounces in this round”. (1 card)
    • “GOLD”/“You can BUY Gold ounces at 500 $ per ounce in this round”. (1 card)
    • “FOODSTUFFS”/“Due to a good harvest, the value of foodstuffs future contracts decreases by 25%. You can BUY or SELL foodstuffs future contracts in this round”. (2 cards)
    • “HIGH-TECH”/“The new Maple computer is introduced to the public with great success of sales; high-tech shares jump by 10%. You can BUY or SELL high-tech in this round”. (2 cards)
    • “OIL”/“Due to the depletion of oil fields in the Middle East, the Brent barrel jumps to 75 $. Oil future contracts increase by 25%. You can BUY or SELL oil future contracts in this round”. (2 cards)
    • “MARKETING”/“You can invest 200 $ in marketing for the sector of your choice. This increases your next dividend by 2 percentage points”. (2 cards)
    • “CASH-IN”/“Sell your auto shares in this round, if you have any”. (4 cards)
    • “LAND & PROPERTY”/“Population growth and immigration increase the demand for housing. Land values jump 10%. You can BUY or SELL land in this round”. (2 cards)
    • “MOVEMENT”/“Go to the next square”. (8 cards)
    • “MOVEMENT”/“Go to the preceding square”. (8 cards)
    • “POLITICS”/“The right-wing party wins the general election. All shares prices jump 2 $. You can BUY or SELL shares in this round”. (2 cards)
    • Etc. (at 14 cards)

500 one-dollar bills.

250 five-dollar bills.

250 ten-dollar bills.

100 twenty-dollar bills.

75 fifty-dollar bills.

150 one-hundred-dollar bills.

200 five-hundred-dollar bills.

250 one-thousand-dollar bills.

five-thousand-dollar bills.

ten-thousand-dollar bills.

twenty-thousand-dollar IOU.

fifty-thousand-dollar IOU.

one-hundred-thousand dollar IOU.

NOTE: All bills and IOUs bear the name “Bank of Interest and Deposits”.

400 shares certificates, distributed as follows: 100 bear the name “The energy company ltd”, 100 bear the name “the auto company ltd”, 100 bear the name “the high-tech company ltd”, and the remaining 100 bear the name “the textile company ltd”. Each certificate represents 500 shares.

100 gold certificates. Each certificate represents 1 ounce of gold.

100 land certificates. Each land certificate represent 1 acre of land.

100 oil future contracts. Each future contract represents 1 barrel of oil.

100 foodstuffs future contracts. Each future contract represents 1 metric ton of foodstuffs.

One shares/futures/gold/land value table such as this:

Bubble Street Value Table. Price Per Share, Ounce, Acre and Future Contract
High Food
TechEnergyAutoTextileGoldLandOilstuffs
Quantityshares sharesshares SharesQuantityOuncesAcresfuturesfutures
traded($)($)($)($)traded($)($)($)($)
  500 4 2 2 1 1 8005000 50 25
 1000 5 3 3 2 2 8505100 75 30
 1500 6 4 4 3 3 9005150100 35
 2000 7 5 5 4 4 9505200125 40
 2500 8 6 6 5 510005250150 45
 3000 9 7 7 6 610005300150 50
 350010 8 8 7 710005400150 60
 400011 9 9 8 810255500160 70
 4500121010 9 910256000160 75
 5000141211101010506200170 80
 5500161412111111006400175 85
 6000181613121212006500175 90
 7000201814131312006800180 95
 8000222015141412257000180100
 9000232216151512506000185125
10000242318171613003000185125
12000252420191714002500190100
14000262522201815002000195 75
16000272623221916002000200 50
18000232024232018002000150 25
20000 1010252421 20002000 25 10
or moreor more
Note:
In case of fractions pick the closest number.
In case of exact equidistant fraction pick closest upper number.

One share/futures/gold/land and property price recording card such as this:

Bubble Street Price Recording Card. Price Per Share, Ounce, Acre and Future Contract
High TechEnergyAutoTextileGoldLandOil Foodstuffs
sharessharessharesSharesOuncesAcresfuturesFutures
Sector($)($)($)($)($)($)($)($)
RoundBABABABABABABABA
 0442222118008005000500050502525
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
Note:
“B” stands for “Before Trading”;
“A” stands for “After Trading”.

One dividends table such as this:

Bubble Street Dividends Table. Returns per Number of Shares
InvestorsHigh-Tech (%)Energy (%)Auto (%)Textile (%)
1121086
210886
38686
44466
52235
62234
72132
81122
91122
101111

Eight decision sheets such as this:

Bubble Street Investor's decision sheet
HighFood
TechEnergyAutoTextileGoldLandOilstuffs
sharessharessharesSharesOuncesAcresfuturesfutures
(number)(number)(number)(number)(number)(number)(number)(number)
RoundBSBSB SBSBSBSBSBS
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
24
25
26
Note:
“B” stands for “BUY”;
“S” stands for “SELL”.

A six-face dice.

Eight miniature color players representing four businessmen and four businesswomen each of them wearing a top hat, a monocle, and holding a cigar in one hand and a wine glass in the other.

Sixty-four color pieces (eight per color).

One calculator

8 pencils

Purpose of the Game

The stock and future markets are risky environments. They can make you rich, or ruin your life, by losing a life-time of savings . . . with this game, one can learn how and why the prices of shares in Wall Street go up and down, and make a profit out of it while you have fun playing Bubble Street with family and friends.

Hence the game is educational, entertaining and useful. The recommended age is +12.

This game requires a minimum of 3 players. The players are investors in the stock market (composed by the four core sectors: high-tech, energy, auto industry and textile) and other sectors (the gold market, the land and property market, the oil future market and the foodstuffs future market).

The four core sectors are represented at the center of the board, surrounding the square occupied by the Bank of Deposits and Interest. These sectors provide dividends to the shareholders, but in a decreasing fashion according to the number of investors active in that particular sector (see dividends table).

The dividends are calculated as a percentage of the number of shares owned, according to the percentages included in the dividends table. IMPORTANT: Do not calculate dividends as a percentage of the increased (or decreased) value of the shares in the stock market.

In addition to collect the dividends, the shares can be bought and sold freely in order to make a speculative return, according to the values table. The prices tend to increase as with the quantity of shares bought, but not always.

In addition, investors can also put their money in gold ounces, land acres, and oil and foodstuffs futures, represented in the corner areas in between the four core sectors and the thirty numbered squares. These sectors do not provide dividends, they are assets markets. The assets can be bought and sold freely by the players in order to make a speculative return according to the values table. The prices tend to increase as with the quantity of shares bought, but not always.

The prices table is not shown to the players, because due to imperfect information future prices are not known in advance. In this game prices change dynamically in function of players BUY or SELL decisions, and also as result of the uncertainty cards.

However, not all sectors are available for investment at the outset of the game. Follow the instructions below:

Sectors open at the start: The four core sectors (Energy, Auto industry, High-Tech and textiles) and the gold market.

Sectors open after completing round 5: Land and property.

Sectors open after completing round 10: The future market for oil.

Sectors open after completing round 15: The future market for foodstuffs.

The game is more complex with all eight sectors, so the players can decide to play only with the four core sectors plus the gold market. In this case the uncertainty cards must be sorted out in order to leave out those who only refer to the land and property, oil and foodstuffs.

Players must invest their capital in order to achieve the higher returns in order to win the game. The player who holds more cash and gold deposits at the end of the game wins. The game is played for at least 21 rounds, although players can set an alternative number of rounds that they see fit. After the completion of round 20 (or the last round of the alternative number agreed by the players), the banker randomly rolls the dice. The number of additional rounds to be played is equal to the number obtained, so the minimum is 21 rounds and the maximum is 26.

Rules of the Game

Before the Game Starts:

The players must decide whether to play with all eight sectors, after having read and understood these rules. Moreover, one of the players has to be identified to serve as the banker in addition to his role as investor. Alternatively one of the players can become a full-time banker. This is only possible if there are at least four players.

In Bubble Street, the Bank of Deposits and Interest controls individual bank accounts, the company's stock (which sells to and buys back from players) and also collects taxes. It is also the central bank, charged with the printing of bills. It also regulates the stock market, providing the daily price quotations, and can carry out inspections on player's books (investment sheets).

Hence, the player serving as the banker must manage the cash flow regarding:

    • Payment of 3% interest on cash and gold deposits any time a player passes square 1, 9, 16 and 24.
    • Payments of dividends every time a player passes square 1, 9, 16 and 24. This includes calculating the corresponding dividends according to the dividends table.
    • Collection of 23% on cash deposits any time a player passes square 1. This means that the player will be effectively charged 20% on cash deposits every time she or he passes square 1, provided that the player remembers to collect his or her interest, which will be discounted. The tax does not apply to gold deposits, only cash. The purpose of this rule is to discourage cash hoarding.
    • Collection of 25% real estate tax calculated as a percentage of the land value at the prevailing market prices, every time a player passes square 1, provided that he or she owns land.
    • Collection of shares payments from players and repurchase of shares from players at the prevailing market prices.

In addition, the Banker updates the prices card every round in two distinctive moments, once after the uncertainty cards have been read (before trading) and another right after the players buy or sell (after trading).

Hence, the banker controls the dividends and value tables, the prices recording card, the bank paper money, the shares certificates, and the calculator.

Each player picks one colored miniature and eight small pieces of corresponding color (or four in case of playing with only the four core sector). The game of course can be played with any kind of player identifier, it does not need to be one of the miniatures proposed in the contents section.

The miniature or alternative player identifier moves through the 30 numbered squares. The pieces would be placed in the eight non-numbered squares to indicate that player's investment in a given sector.

The miniatures are placed in the square with broken lines adjacent to square 1 labeled “START”.

Before the game starts, the Banker allocates a capital equal to 10,000 dollars per player as follows:

20 one-dollar bills.
10 five-dollar bills.
10 ten-dollar bills.
4 twenty-dollar bills.
3 fifty-dollar bills.
6 one-hundred-dollar bills.
8 five-hundred-dollar bills.
5 one-thousand-dollar bills.

The banker keeps the rest of the bills for transaction purposes. The Bank of Deposits and Interest has an initial capital equal to more than twice the combined initial capital of 8 players. Hence, the Bank of Deposits and Interest is not likely to run out of capital or shares. If that was the case, the Bank of Deposits and Interest in its capacity as the central bank can print additional paper money and IOUs and shares as needed.

Starting and Development:

At the beginning of the game all players position themselves in the “START” square.

Each player rolls the dice. The player who obtains the highest number is allowed to start buying shares (it is not possible to sell shares yet because the players own only cash). The turn follows in a counter-clock fashion to the right of the player that started the buying. In essence, at the outset of the game all players are allowed to buy certain number of shares at the original or default prices. After this round “Zero” is completed, the same player that started that round will initiate round “One” by rolling the dice.

The turn follows in a counter-clock fashion to the right of this player.

Players advance as many squares as the number obtained on the dice, counting square 1.

Each player has a turn, and the sum of the turns is the round. The rounds follow a precise sequence:

    • First: Roll the dice and move the miniature or alternative player identifier to the corresponding square.
    • Second: Collect interest and dividend payments (if any) if passing over square 1, 9, 16 and 24. NOTE: It is the player job to remember this, not the banker. The Banker however should prompt the payment of the tax on cash holdings and real estate the moment any player passes over the indicated square 1.
    • Third: The player plans an investment decision according to what it is indicated in the square where the player has moved or in the uncertainty card. The player is allowed to consult the price recording card and dividends table for this purpose, but not the values table.
    • If the square indicates “BUY” the player can buy shares in any of the core sectors (energy, auto industry, high tech or textiles), and/or ounces of gold, and/or land and property, and/or future contracts in one of the future markets (oil or foodstuffs).
    • If the square indicates “SELL” the player can sell shares in any of the core sectors (energy, auto industry, high tech or textiles), and/or ounces of gold, and/or land and property, and/or future contracts in one of the future markets (oil or foodstuffs).
    • If the square indicates “BUY & SELL” the player can either buy and/or sell shares in any of the core sectors (energy, auto industry, high tech or textiles), and/or ounces of gold, and/or land and property, and/or future contracts in one of the future markets (oil or foodstuffs).
    • If the square indicates “UNCERTAINTY”, the player picks up a card from the pile and reads it without disclosing the content to the other players. The card will either allow the player to follow a course of action, sometimes based upon on some privileged information, or force a course of action.
    • The investment decision is written down in the investment sheet, if any. It is written down in the investment sheet, in the corresponding column, indicating the number of shares, ounces, future contracts, or land and property certificates that are planned to be bought or sold. A “plus” sign indicates a “BUY” action, and a “minus” sign indicates a “SELL” action.
    • IMPORTANT: The decision is not announced to the other players at this stage.
    • Fourth: When all players have completed the previous three steps, those who have gotten uncertainty cards must read them, for they might influence the outcome of the investment decisions taken by other players. When the information provided by these cards, including changes in the prevailing market prices (at the outset of round “Zero” these prices are recorded in the prices card in the row corresponding to round 0) is accounted for, and recorded in the “B” column of the prices recording card, the players must carry out the investment decision, by paying or collecting money and/or shares, gold, land and property, or future contracts certificates.
    • IMPORTANT: The investment decision cannot be altered at this stage. When in doubt, the Banker, or any other player, can ask the investment's decision sheet for verification.
    • Fifth: The banker verifies the amount of shares bought by players in each sector in order to update the prices recording card for the next round (column A), by using the prices table. Players must show their certificates by raising her or his hand while voicing the number of shares, gold ounces, certificates of land/property and/or future contracts own in a given sector. The banker can verify the statement with the certificates at any time.
    • IMPORTANT: There could be interaction between one or more uncertainty cards and the prices table when determining the prevailing prices to be recorded in that given round that will guide investment decisions in the following round. The banker has to account for all these effects, starting with the effects derived from uncertainty cards and following with the effects derived from the investment decisions, according to the values table.
    • EXAMPLE: There are four players, A, B, C, and D, which have completed round “Zero”. They are about to start round “One”.
    • Player A starts and rolls the dice. He gets and uncertainty card. He reads it to himself: it says that the consumption of computers has increased and hence the value of high-tech shares will increase 25% on the prevailing market prices, and he is allowed to BUY or SELL. Player A checks the prices card: the current price is 4 dollars per share (the price recorded for round 0 in column A). Player A now knows that price for high-tech will be 5 dollars per share at the end of round. Since he does not own shares yet, he plans to BUY anyway, and writes down +500 in his sheet, assuming that he will pay 2500 $.
    • Player B rolls the dice and falls into the “BUY” square. She checks the price recording card and dividends table, and learns that the high-tech shares are the most expensive (4$ per share) but also provide the highest return (12%). She decides to BUY +1000 shares of high tech, assuming she will pay 4000 $.
    • Player C rolls the dice and falls into an “UNCERTAINTY” square. He reads it to himself: it says that the new DOORS computer has gotten bad reviews and hence the value of high-tech shares will decrease 10% on the prevailing market prices, and he is allowed to BUY or SELL. Player C checks the prices card: the current price is 4 dollars per share (the price recorded for round 0 in column A). Player C now knows that price for high-tech will be 3.6 dollars per share at the end of round. Since he knows that the shares are going to be 10% cheaper, he plans to BUY, and writes down +500 in his sheet, assuming that he will pay 1800 $.
    • Player D rolls the dice and falls into the “SELL” square. Since she does not own any shares yet, she does nothing.
    • The uncertainty cards are read in the same order that players follow to roll the dice. The banker has to update the price of high tech shares in the “B” column of the price recording card, while leaving the other prices unchanged:

High TechEnergyAutoTextileGoldLandOil Foodstuffs
sharessharessharesSharesOuncesAcresfuturesFutures
Sector($)($)($)($)($)($)($)($)
RoundBABABABABABABABA
04  42222118008005000500050502525
14.622180050005025
Note:
4 + 0.25 (4) − 0.1 (4) = 4.6
    • Trading moment: Player A buys 500 high tech shares at 4.6 $, cheaper than expected (5 $), player B buys 1000 high tech shares at 4.6 $, more expensive than expected (4 $), player C buys 500 high tech shares at 4.6 $, more expensive than expected (3.6 $). The quantity of shares bought in the high tech sector total 2000. The banker checks the values table to update the prices after trading. The new price after trading to be placed in column A, according to the values table is 7 $:

High TechEnergyAutoTextileGoldLandOil Foodstuffs
sharessharessharesSharesOuncesAcresfuturesFutures
Sector($)($)($)($)($)($)($)($)
RoundBABABABABABABABA
04  42222118008005000500050502525
14.672222118008005000500050502525