Comedian Steven Wright once said that he thought it was "wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly." But, for many people, Monopoly is board games unto itself- Monopoly has a monopoly on board gaming. It's the first example that comes to mind when asked to name a board game. It's the game you're most likely going to see on a television show, or movie, or in an image of a family playing a board game. It's the game that everyone who decides to make a board game imitates. It's what non-board gamers use as comparison- "Oh, it's like Monopoly!"
Between its constant praise from the board gaming uninitiated and how much luck plays into the victor's hand, Monopoly is easily dismissed by those deeply entrenched in the board gaming hobby. Many a gamer's nose lifts high into the air in snootiness while a dour expression forms on his/her face any time Monopoly is uttered. The only time they'll mention Monopoly is when they preface it with the words, "I hate."
I, myself have been guilty of this many times. But, after thinking things through (particularly after Rodney Smith's rant about how it's not special to not like things), I can now see that constantly hating on Monopoly and putting it down is not the thing that any of us should be doing.
Below I have come up with five reasons why we need to stop hating on Monopoly immediately.
For many people, Monopoly is the face of board gaming.
Number 5- It's Historical Aspects
The Landlord Game, which was designed by Lizzie Magie in 1903, was inspired by the economic beliefs of Henry George which, among other tenants, believed that natural resources should belong equally to all people. Magie created her game to proselytize and explain the single tax theory of Georgism that she adhered to, which espouses that rent should not be a means of generating profit to the owner.
That's great, but what does this have to do with Monopoly? Everything.
It is said that an unemployed Charles Darrow, the man who is credited with inventing Monopoly, played The Landlord Game in 1932 and was so impressed by it that he requested his friend write down the rules of play for him. He later used it as the basis for Monopoly, which he sold to Parker Bros. in 1935.
When Parker Bros. later discovered the origin of the game- being heavily inspired (if not straight, cut and dry stolen from) The Landlord Game, they bought Magie's patent for $500, about $10,000 in today's economy. This implies that the gaming company could clearly see that Darrow copied Magie's game. Meanwhile, Darrow made millions in his heist.
Number 4- Hasbro's Still Trying New Things
Even if you are sickened by the sight of all the different versions of Monopoly out there, you have to give Hasbro some credit- they're still trying new things. Yes, it might just be to sell you (or at least everyone else) another copy of their game, but they are doing far more than just the tried-and-true re-skinning (re-theming) of their cardboard cash cow.
There have also been new ways to play, changing up the traditional. One example is Ms. Monopoly
, which attempted to raise awareness of the disparity between men's and women's salaries by giving women, at every age, the upper-hand in the game. In Cheater's Edition
, players are encouraged to cheat their way to victory, so long as they don't get caught and handcuffed. And in a game about creating an illegal monopoly, doesn't cheating just seem appropriate? And who can forget the Longest Game Ever
edition which not only greatly increases the size of the board, doubling the amount of properties, but gives players only one die to navigate the gargantuan board?
Hasbro could sell enough copies of Monopoly on nostalgia alone, but the company and the game deserve some credit for still tweaking the formula-looking for ways to make the game different.
Number 3- Not Playing It Right
To truly decide whether you like a game or not, you have to play by the written rules. Here's the problem with Monopoly- most people seem to play with some house rules. House rules are those ways to play that aren't actually part of the game.
For instance, when I first played Monopoly with my wife, she told me about the rule where you pay money to the center of the game board any time you are taxed, and if a player lands on the Free Parking space, that player obtains the pot of money that has been growing. I'd never heard of that rule. And for good reason- it's NOT a rule. But it is a popular house rule used in households across the globe.
But it's not always adding rules to Monopoly that cause families to not play it right, it's also ignoring them.
The most egregious and infamous example is with buying properties. If a player lands on a property and chooses not to purchase it, that property is immediately put up for auction where any player may buy it. The property goes to the highest bidder, and that bidder can be the player who landed on it and chose not to buy it at the original asking price.
Other rules that seem to be ignored are that houses on properties must be built evenly- you can't load up three houses on one property while the others in the set have none, and that houses and hotels are limited to the number provided in the game box.
How can you hate a game that you might not even be playing right? For a full list of the official rules, you can find them here.
Number 2- Introduces Gaming Concepts
Modern games are loaded with more complex ideas in how to play. Believe it or not, Monopoly gives people a Cliff's Notes-like introduction to some of those same concepts (also known as mechanics). Some of the mechanics that can help players of Monopoly prepare for other games are set collecting in how the properties of a certain type must be obtained before raising any buildings, negotiating in making deals with other players, and auction/bidding if we're playing by the correct rules (see reason number 3).
Playing Monopoly can also prepare pre-gamers to another important concept in gaming- time requirements. It is not an unknown fact that Monopoly can be a long ordeal. If a person has no problem with a game of Monopoly taking three-to-four hours to complete, it won't be nearly as difficult to convince him or her to a game that will take the same investment of time. It could even lead that individual to games of a more epic scale, and who couldn't use another person around the table to play Twilight Imperium?
And don't count out a game simply because it uses dice to determine movement. That's silly.
Number 1- Prevents Growth of the Hobby
Do you know what I've never heard? I've never heard a fan of film criticize someone for enjoying The Sound of Music. I've never heard a connoisseur of novels mock someone whose favorite book might be Tom Sawyer. Why? Because those who truly love a particular thing want others to enjoy it as well. They want to help that person learn new experiences, but they don't belittle the experiences they have.
When people who play board games make sour faces and spout out vile hatred when Monopoly is mentioned, those who enjoy it are not going to listen to your opinions on board games. They aren't going to take your suggestions. If you want to introduce people to games much better than Monopoly, you have to understand that it's not bad to like Monopoly.
And get this, a Monopoly fan might not even like your game! That's ok. But by constantly hating on Monopoly, or any other mass market game for that matter, we are stunting the growth of the hobby. No one wants to be a part of a group that appears elitist, snobbish, and discounts their experiences. Like it or not, Monopoly is the most recognizable icon of board gaming. To some it's the pinnacle of board gaming. In their minds, to say that you hate Monopoly is to say that you hate board games.
So, stop saying that you hate Monopoly. Be an ambassador for board games and not what's in the middle of that word. In other words, play nice.
Love the article! But I somewhat disagree with a few points.ReplyDelete
"For instance, when I first played Monopoly with my wife, she told me about the rule where you pay money to the center of the game board any time you are taxed, and if a player lands on the Free Parking space, that player obtains the pot of money that has been growing. I'd never heard of that rule. And for good reason- it's NOT a rule. But it is a popular house rule used in households across the globe...... "ReplyDelete
I'VE BEEN DUPED MY WHOLE LIFE!!!