- William Warby
For most people, Monopoly is not an enjoyable board game in any sense of the word. Almost every family breaks out the box at Christmas, but it inevitably always ends in fall-outs, arguments, and hours of not talking to each other afterwards.
The problem is, we all seem to have an obsession with a game that makes us miserable. For one player, their good fortune will make them feel like a king for a few hours, while everyone else will steadily abandon the game. Ultimately, all it comes down to is luck.
It was originally called ‘The Landlord’s Game’
Monopoly is derived from an original board game called “The Landlord’s Game,” and rather than being good family fun, it was actually created to be an insight into the trials and tribulations of money, and the negative implications of capital accumulation.
It was made up by a woman called Elizabeth Magie in 1903, who wanted it to reflect her political views. She was a georgist, which meant she believed people should own the value they produce themselves, but that anything earned from the land, such as natural resources, should belong to everyone in the community.
The Landlord’s Game was supposed to show the dangers of land monopoly specifically, which is what happens when land is treated as private property.
“It is a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences,” Magie wrote in a political magazine, according to The Guardian. “It might well have been called the ‘Game of Life,’ as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world, and the object is the same as the human race in general seem[s] to have, ie, the accumulation of wealth.”
In the Landlord’s Game, and in Monopoly, one person succeeds over all the others. There is no skill involved, as it all comes down to the numbers you roll, and thus what squares you land on. The winning player feels skilled, and has the illusion of making good choices, when really it’s all down to the whim of the dice.
So actually, Monopoly was never created to be fun. When all the property is bought, and players have gone around the board a few times, the remainder of the game play is a simple rate of return calculation. In other words, the ultimate winner is already decided, it’s just a matter of when they will obliterate the competition. Players can hang on until their very last pound is gone, and everything is mortgaged, but really nothing can bring you back from the inevitable loss.
Over the years, families have created their own “in-house rules,” such as collecting all the tax money if you land on free parking, or earning £400 for landing on “Go.” Also, seemingly few people play the auction rule.
However, all these extra complications seem to do is prolong the inevitable, so really you’re better off sticking to the original rules – meaning you might want to give them another read through. Alternatively, you could just put the box away and play something else. That way you might still be on talking terms with your family afterwards.