I've been thinking about this question for a while and I want to ask your opinions.
Stock market - No, this market is not zero-sum just because of the dividends. Manufacturing companies create value by turning raw materials into finished goods. Something that was originally worth little has been transformed into something worth more. Service companies create value by tapping into human capital. A consultant creates value by giving advice. His advice is worth money, and the consultant can give an infinite amount of advice. This value is retained by the company as profit. The profit gets distributed to shareholders. Therefore, the stock market is not a zero-sum game just because of the dividends.
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/z/zero-sumgame.a... first debunked myth on that web page is the stock market zero-sum myth. In essays I've read that argue that the stock market is zero-sum, the writer always neglects the dividends. You buy stocks to get the dividends! That's the whole point of stocks!
Options market - Yes, this is zero-sum.
Futures market - Yes, this is zero-sum.
Forex market - I'm not sure about this one.
Basically I think it's stupid to trade in the options or futures market because it's gambling. Poker is a zero-sum game and it's gambling. How can you assume that you are smarter than the rest of the market players? (The only way to profit in a zero-sum game is to be smarter than the other players). Everyone thinks they're a hot-shot, but due to statistics, most people will be average...