Board games have always been a great way to kill boredom and the humdrum of the daily routine. They are the perfect choice for family nights and these days, with the spread of COVID-19, an even better diversion from the depression that eventually sets in due to the long period of quarantine.
Perhaps a childhood memory many can recall is the hours well spent with Rich Uncle Pennybags, as the pawns made their way around the game board passing through jail and railway stations all the while bankrupting siblings, parents, relatives and friends. Yes, Monopoly truly was and maybe even still is the market’s favourite. But the game is more than what appears to be.
Monopoly unlike many others of its kind has a surprising history attached to it. Originating from a previously developed game, a brainchild of Elizabeth Magie, called The Landlord’s Game, the credit for the ideation of Monopoly was an extremely contentious issue irrespective of which the final publishing rights were granted to Parker Brothers, now Hasbro Incorporation. A worldwide beloved game, Monopoly’s precursor was actually designed with two sets of rules; the Monopolists Rule which reflected the current system of play involving concepts of taxes, investments and insolvency whereas the Prosperity Rules nurtured sharing within the community of players resulting in everyone’s win. While the former built in children the foundation of an economy based on capitalism the latter, often mistaken as a socialist propaganda, in reality brought forth the principles of Georgism, an economic theory proposed by Henry George. Georgism has found much praise amongst contemporaries in the concerned field, with it calling for a land value tax. Translating in layman’s terms it means taxation of land owned by private individuals, unutilized and undeveloped by said institutions since it prohibits the access of owned land to any other with land being as public a property as air and water. Of course this is an incredibly narrow outlook to Georgism but serves the present purpose.
Monopoly, as sold by Hasbro today, was launched taking inspiration from just half of the whole picture. In that it taught the basics of a competitive world, where the sole purpose is to emerge victorious making the other players loose the entire fortune of 1500$ with which the game begins. For those who’ve never stumbled upon the game, Monopoly consists of 2-N players, rolling a pair of die, going round and round a pathway as indicated on the game’s board buying the demarcated properties and utilities, paying taxes, building houses and upgrading them with hotels while mortgaging the same all towards the purpose of building an empire of monopolies. Jail, Chance Cards, Community Cards, Train Stations are all thrown in the mix as well. To be honest it makes for a fantastic ‘Learn while Playing’ sort of moment.
In monopoly when one buys properties one sub-consciously judges the most strategic location to set up ones house, when personally trading money (the actual rules apparently do not permit for this sort of underhand training however home rules differ in their rigidity) one learns the concept of interest. Monopoly imparts the most important financial rule of life aka money generates more money; to be precise it tells its players to invest and not hoard money, a strategy which often ends in defeat. Taxation was another first of firsts introduced through Monopoly in addition to property deeds and salaries (Remember that 200$ you used to collect after passing Go? Yes that that was in fact the player’s salary)
The game itself has, since its original edition, undergone many changes with various custom made boards now available on the shelves, despite which it remains a classic and one of the first ever games to have allowed children to be in charge of that green paper money.