Want to learn financial markets and investment jargon? Now you can, with a tabletop game
Rockstar Portfolio Manager (RSPM) is an exciting finance themed tabletop game created by a team of Pioneer Junior College alumni who are now successful professionals working in various fields. What made them decide to develop a tabletop game?
Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your team. What is your background story and what inspires the creation of Rockstar Portfolio Manager?
Hi everyone! My name is Dexter, and I am currently in a strategy role with an investment platform. The team behind the Rockstar Portfolio Manager game are my classmates Toh Wei Zhong and Teo Wei Wen. We met each other in Pioneer Junior College more than 10 years ago! One is in marine insurance, another in data analytics. The game was created back in 2019 when I caught up with Wei Zhong after a game of ping pong; he discussed with me some new board game concepts that he had in mind, which involved gamifying his professional experience. I thought that this was a cool idea, and after our meeting, and went on to create my own prototype game as well. After a few weeks, we agreed to team up to launch a series of fun and educational board games together, starting with Rockstar Portfolio Manager. Wei Wen was the first play tester of the prototype Rockstar Portfolio Manager and he absolutely loved it and begged us to come onboard. Since all our last names start off with the letter "T" and there are three of us, we decided to name our company T3 Gaming Studio!
Q: What is game design process like for Rockstar Portfolio Manager? What challenges did you encounter while developing the game?
For us, we have 3 design principles prior to creating the game. We wanted it to be a tool to educate players about the market cycle and its impact to a person’s portfolio, help them learn about investment jargons, and just have a great time playing the game again with great replay value. One of the challenges we faced is that we had to streamline the game because some of our initial ideas, such as a 4th asset class: property, made the game too complex and required too many unique playing cards to incorporate it. It was a little painful to trim the size of the deck, but we thought that this was necessary to enable players to have a great experience. Hence we are currently working on an expansion pack to complement the base game.
Q: We understand that you are working in the wealth management industry. What are some of the real-life experiences you encounter during your investment journey that you have incorporated into the game?
I have been guilty of several behavioral biases, such as being too overconfident and having a large exposure to technology stocks, as well as investing with a fear-of-missing-out attitude. These hit the best of us and can result in a very poor investment outcome. Therefore, I wanted to incorporate these lessons in the game in the form of Action Cards, so that players who are new to investing would be able to learn from these without paying the hefty tuition fees aka investment losses that I did! At the minimum, my hope is that players are intrigued by the cards, conduct their own internet research, and read up on very real investment concepts that can aid them in their personal finance journey.
Q: Manufacturing and quality control is often a challenge many creators face, especially when they are producing the goods abroad. How did you manage these challenges? Are there any bad experiences?
We launched the board game during Covid, so to us, the launch was a tremendous achievement! Because of potential manufacturing delays and intellectual property rights issues, we took the approach to use several local manufacturers for different components of our game box and did the assembly ourselves. The only game component that was severely delayed were the cubes of asset classes, and as a result, we made the difficult decision of self-financing the first batch of game boxes versus doing a Kickstarter campaign.
Q: Designing the artwork for an investment game is no easy task as it is harder to create artwork for abstract ideas like stocks and bonds. How did you go about your creative direction for your artwork?
Because our game is designed for students from polytechnic or junior college up to working adults, we wanted to go for a cute concept. We have 3 characters in our game: a bull, a boy and a bear. In general, we tried to use the bull character for cards with a positive impact to portfolios, and the bear character for cards with a negative impact. For other cards, we tried to use images that resonated strongly with us from popular scenes from finance related movies such as Wolf of Wall Street, or went quite literally with the word. For example, for interest rate hike, we had a picture of a bear hiking.
Q: What mistakes did your team make during development? What about the game you wished could have been done better?
I think the game is a decent version for our first attempt, but I wished that we had been more careful to ensure that there are no grammatical errors in our cards. It is only when the game was launched, we realized that a lot of players struggle with the more complex cards in the game, and we wished that we had developed a “lite” mode of the game which could act as a learning mode for new players.
Q: Video and mobile game is all in rage now. Why did you choose table-top and board games rather than digital games?
Honestly, we are limited by our lack of technology expertise! It was way easier to just prepare physical prototypes by cutting out strips of paper instead of coding the game. We do have a long-term vision to launch the game on video and mobile as well, but we want to do it more deliberately after we have found the right partner to help us do this.
Q: Are you looking to develop another future project? Any tidbits to share with us on your potential new projects?
There are several board game initiatives that we are working on in various stages of development. One game is around logic and deduction around shapes…The gameplay is kind of like Cluedo? That game idea was borne out of a research project that I did last year with a professor at INSEAD. Another game in development is a collaborative game where 4 players race against time to complete their tasks and finish team projects. Some of other ideas we have brain stormed include launching a new games related to data science and insurance. As you may have deduced by now, we like to gamify the professional experience from our various team mates. Stay tuned!
Q. Where can we find out more about your organization and your products?
More information about our current board game can be found on our website www.rockstarpm.org . We are also happy to discuss any educational workshops, partnership opportunities or bulk orders; do drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!