Monopoly is a holiday evil,
do not be tempted by it!

Written 21st December 2019, Published 14th May 2020 due to the volume of fires & pandemic news.

As the pandemic society lockdown stretches into a third month, many families are looking to occupy their time and keep kids entertained however they can. Many will pull out a board game to play together. Inevitably that board game will be some version of Monopoly. Before you decide to inflict the torture of this game on others though, pause a moment to reflect on how Monopoly came to be.

Monopoly started off as The Landlord's Game, it was invented by a woman to demonstrate the principles of socialism. It was a co-operative game where people were meant to pool resources and establish a commune. Having one player drive everyone else to bankruptcy was one of the lose conditions.

The game was stolen by a mediocre white man, presented in the worst possible way and turned into Monopoly, which became a capitalistic success off the back of presenting the absolute worst traits of capitalism.

That is before we get to the utter mediocrity of the game itself. It combines the two worst gaming mechanics out there, random luck and maths. Into a game that is slow, boring, and based on single elimination.

The fact is being the first eliminated is not even the worst part, because you pretty much know that you are going to be the first eliminated 10 turns before. If I were running a board game design workshop, I would point at Monopoly and say, "Don’t do that if you want your game to be fun".

Then there is this bewildering culture around it of "ha ha ha, it's the game we all fight over". With stupid asinine house rules that invariably make the game worse. Even so, it's still held up as a superior family game because it's more sophisticated than fucking Candyland, or snakes and ladders.

Now we get to the part where it is a capitalistic nightmare. It cannibalises all kinds of licences to become a default piece of collectors’ art that is ultimately a waste of time and resources. The almost infinite variations on the game that are basically still the same… it is always the same fucking game.

Why it is always the same game? In order to maintain their patent, new versions of Monopoly cannot vary too much from the original or else it breaks their trademark. The margin is something like 10-15%, which means they can only change the theme, or throw in a couple of new rules (such as with the longest game of Monopoly with the double board). That or just come up with insulting fucking gimmicks such as Millennial Monopoly or Miss Monopoly so they can get outrage sales.

In the 1970s there was a blow back against Hasbro board games at the height of their popularity. Child psychologists suggesting that competitive games promoted aggressive and bullying behaviour.

They released a game called The Un-Game, where you move a peg around a board and talk about your feelings based on card prompts. With questions like "How would you feel if a friend lied to you?" up to "What is your response to the AIDS epidemic?". It is largely considered to be the least fun game ever produced.

I would gladly play the Un-game over Monopoly any fucking day of the week. No matter how tedious things may get currently, there are endless better options to occupy your time with than Monopoly.

It is time to move on from Hasbro games. The board game revolution has already passed you buy. Start with Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Carcasonne. Then move onto the likes of Dixit, Codenames, or Secret Hitler. You and your family might just remember that board games are meant to be fun.

You may also end up with less anxiety fuelled arguments whilst we are mostly stuck at home still.

"To lie does not require research; to disprove a lie does." - Greg Jericho


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