July 30, 2013
Monopoly: Fast And Furious
Who doesn’t love a good game of Monopoly? The game is an absolute classic, played by millions, and fondly remembered as a childhood staple of family game night for as long as I am able to remember. Recently, Hasbro, the current makers of Monopoly, released a new “kids version” of the game, in which individual games are drastically shortened by altering the objective of the game from forcing your opponents into bankruptcy to amassing a set amount of wealth/resources yourself. This game, which once could run as long as 70 days (the reported longest lasting game ever played) to about 30 minutes. So, is this a good thing? I wonder.
Personally, I find that the simplification of rules in games — board, tabletop, or other — does not always come as a positive addition to the experience. See my look at Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition for more on this, which, ironically, is made by Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro. Fortunately, there is often enough of an outcry against such change to make the owners of the game hesitant to apply them without good cause. Even with this new version of the classic family game (Monopoly, not D&D), rumors of the removal of the “Jail” from the game were quickly laid to rest after fans of the game let it be known of their opposition to such a change. Now, I am not saying the fans are always right. Far from it, in fact. With so many different opinions out there, it is impossible to please everyone all of the time, and game creators must be aware of that. A desire to please everyone will ultimately lead to a final product that most likely will not please anyone. Again, see Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition.
Personally, I find the most alarming change to the game being its objective change. Originally, as the game was designed by Elizabeth Magie Phillips in 1904, the intention of Monopoly was to teach its players about the dangers of a monopoly; illustrating through play how the market can function more productively with multiple hands in the market. Now, that point is not as easily visible. The whole objective of this new version of the game is just to get rich without any real concern for the market of the game. The focus of the game has shifted from the whole to the individual, the many to the self. I find this a somewhat sad reflection on modern business practices and mentality, myself. A part of me wonders if this was the real point behind the alteration of the end-game objective.
Or maybe I am just over-thinking it.
Fortunately, for die-hard fans of the game, this new version of Monopoly will not replace the current classic. It is merely a different version of the game meant for faster play. “Monopoly-light,” if you will. It will be interesting to see how this new version of the game will be received, as I doubt that it will be able to embed itself into our culture as prominently as the original has, but we shall see.