Initiated by German savings banks' organization Deutscher Sparkassen Verlag, the game started in 1983 to increase knowledge of stock and securities markets among high-school students. The game has become pan-European, the number of participating teams increasing from 4,500 in 1983 up to 53,000 in 1999, with over 5.5 million students taking part in the game.
"Planspiel Boerse is an exciting competition for students and trainees, based on the 'learning by doing' principle," said Arthur Wies, manager for Deutscher Sparkassen Verlag. "It gives the students the possibility to learn something about shares and other securities, and find out how the economy works."
Each team gets a fictitious account with a starting capital of 50,000 euros. For about 11 weeks the teams can buy and sell from a range of 120 real securities in order to increase the value of their account as much as possible. The teams hand in their orders at their local savings bank or send them via Internet. The calculation is done at the central computer at the Planspiel Boerse central office in Stuttgart with the real stock market prices. Winners are those who by the end of the game have made the highest profit by skillfully investing their starting capital.
"We do not want to put students under pressure of investing real money, they are too young for that. Teachers also did not like this idea, because with it the pedagogical effect of the game would have been gone," Wies stressed. However, "the prices are real and quotations are real," he said.
Every year different stock exchanges are selected for the game to give the students a better overview of the market. This year, besides the central stock exchange in Frankfurt, the students will be able to place their bids in the Paris, Vienna and Stockholm exchanges.
The participating teams come from Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic. This year, the pilot games will be held in Sweden, Spain and Latvia.