Ready For Some Family Therapy? Let’s Play Monopoly!
Just so we’re clear: I get the race car this time.

Dan Van Oss American States, History 0 Comments

Monopoly is the quintessential American board game we all know and shun on family game night because we don’t want to pay for more group counseling after the bickering escalates. Originally intended to demonstrate the evils of land ownership, it ended up mostly demonstrating the evils of totally destroying your sister’s dignity when she landed on your fully-hoteled Boardwalk. The initial version was invented by Elizabeth J. “Park Place” Phillips in 1903, with the game intended to be an explanation of the single tax theory of Henry George, which holds that the economic value derived from natural resources and natural opportunities should belong equally to all residents of a Zzzzzzzzzzzzz….. As this had no relevance on being able to get your little brother to cry when he had to mortgage Reading Railroad to get out of jail, it and similar games were modified by Parker Brothers in 1935 into the more familiar, relationship-splintering version we know today. Players move around the game board buying or trading properties, developing their properties by adding houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, with the ultimate goal of not having your uncle be the banker because he always cheats. An instant success during the Great Depression, the game has since spread across the globe, where even now, two goat shepherds in a yurt in Mongolia are coming to blows over whether you still get your $200 when Chance makes you go to jail.

Hey! I get to be the Segway this time!

The familiar playing pieces used in the game (dog, shoe, top hat, etc.) each have their storied history, which doesn’t matter because I get to be the race car YOU WERE THE RACE CAR LAST TIME.
The familiar playing pieces used in the game (dog, shoe, top hat, etc.) each have their storied history, which doesn’t matter because I get to be the race car YOU WERE THE RACE CAR LAST TIME. History, or at least Google, has it that one of the originators of the game, Charles Darrow, wanted players to use items they could find around the house during the 30s, such as buttons, bottle caps, little piles of dust or foreclosure notices. His nieces suggested that he use the charms from a girl’s charm bracelet of the time, such as an iron, to show the long life of maternal poverty that awaited her, or a shoe, which was her usual dinner on Sunday nights. The pieces have remained more or less the same since then, with some variations to keep up with the times. The modern Electronic Banking version of the game features pieces such as a flat screen TV, a Segway, a credit card statement with a negative balance and, somewhat ironically, a foreclosure notice.

Get your own something-opoly

Parker Brothers began licensing Monopoly in 1994, which has led to over 100 versions of the game, such as “Disney Villains Monopoly”, “Bass Fishing Monopoly”, “Street Fighter Monopoly” and “Trump Monopoly”, which uses real hotels to destroy your credit rating if you don’t pay for overnight parking (Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200). Just about everything has been made into a something-opoly, to the point that some smaller countries are considering creating their own versions (“Mauritania-oply”) so they can fund their next coup with the royalties.

Monopoly facts

  • The longest game of Monopoly lasted 70 straight days, after the players realized they were using three dice instead of two.
  • The original subtitle was “The Interminably Slow 12-Hour Rainy Day Marathon Mom-Exasperating All-Out Sibling Brawl Trading Game”, which was soon changed to the less-accurate but shorter “The Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game”.
  • The iconic mustachioed lead character of the game with the top hat is called “Rich Uncle Pennybags”. Sadly, having never been paid for his modeling work, he is neither rich nor even an uncle, and today lives in an organic farming collective in Oregon with the Hungry Hungry Hippos.
  • More than 1 billion people have played Monopoly worldwide, most of them without access to the proper counseling.
  • To make the game relevant to Welsh consumers, the properties all have four extra consonants added to them.
  • There are four ways to get out of Jail in Monopoly; pay $50, roll doubles, use a Get Out Of Jail Free card, or punch your brother in the arm and steal his Get Out Of Jail Free card.
  • In WashingtonDC-opoly, you cannot build a house on any property that hasn’t been listed by HUD as suitable/available exclusively for a period of 60 days from the date of this Notice, where said property is described as for “off-site use only” by recipients in order to maximize the opportunity to utilize a suitable property, where providers should submit their written expressions of interest at the appropriate time, in accordance with applicable law, subject to screening for other Federal use. No one has ever completed a game of WashingtonDC-opoly.
Photo Credit: Bill Selak cc
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