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article imageTwitch users play the stock market using one man's $50,000

By James Walker     Jun 1, 2017 in Technology
Users of the online game streaming platform Twitch are making real trades on the stock market using one man's $50,000. The initiative is called Stock Stream and employs Twitch's interactive gaming features to let "players" decide on the trades to make.
Stock Stream is meant to be an experiment in "collaboration, business and, naturally, chaos," gaming news site Polygon reported after speaking to its creator. A software developer called Mike, he has provided $50,000 of his own money to let Twitch users buy and sell stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.
Users participate in voting rounds where they get to express their views on which trades to make next. Decisions are signalled using Twitch's interactive commands in the chat window. At the end of the round, a script counts all the votes with an algorithm and then uses the Robinhood trading app to buy and sell the stocks.
Mike admitted it isn't an entirely original idea. Similar unusual Twitch "games" have appeared in the past, including another stock market trading effort called TwitchPlaysStockMarket. It hasn't been used since 2015.
Mike said he took inspiration from the Twitch Installs project, an idea that saw Twitch users compete to type commands in the chat window that would be entered into an Arch Linux virtual machine. Every five seconds, the most popular keystroke would be sent to the virtual installation.
Stock Stream doesn't yet offer its players any kind of reward. People are currently engaging with the project out of curiosity. The game's success has allowed Mike to consider awarding prizes to the highest scoring players. At the moment, only Mike himself gets to reap the financial benefits of the trading though. He's just giving Twitch users a chance to choose where he puts his money.
"This is all just my money," Mike said to PC Gamer. "I saved it up, and as for who benefits it'll just be me. It mean, I'm taking all the risks."
Mike is intending to keep Stock Stream running over the summer. The project has received a lot of attention and the Robinhood account is steadily gaining momentum. Although players could begin to depart when the novelty value wears off, Mike expects it to remain popular for a little while longer yet.
Stock Stream can run without intervention, allowing it to operate continuously until Mike chooses to pull the plug. The control system is "100 percent automated," capable of starting the stream when the stock market opens, buying and selling stock until it closes and then taking the whole thing offline for another day.
As for the money itself, Mike said he'll be forced to shutter the Stock Stream experiment if the account value falls below $25,000. This limit is non-negotiable as it's based on regulations set by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to lower the risks of day trading.
Mike is optimistic that the thousands of players will keep the account in the clear. His current calculations suggest the money will last for "at least a couple of months," turning Stock Stream into a long-running social experiment where the aim is to play the stock market.
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