The story behind Monopoly

It is inevitable to have seen or played the worldwide famous board game Monopoly. The intensity and the changing emotions experienced during this game are able to remain in the players’ memories until the next time someone is eager to experience either the road to victory if chance prevails, or the road to failure. Feelings for the game are mixed, and that is why this board game has become an object of analysis and questioning by the general public. Equally intriguing as other board games, Monopoly powers our minds’ engine during, before, and after the game and its final result. However, for many victims, these thoughts can last just enough as to make them reason that it may not be a family board game after all. 

Initially, the basic idea of Monopoly,  was created by a progressive American woman called Elizabeth Magie, who was moved by the spread of inequality of wealth across America at the start of the 20th century. She created a board game named “the Landlord’s Game” that had an unlimited number of rounds, and would resemble a model of life where each player’s chips would land on a service, the jail, where taxes were burdened, or a job to earn wages, similar to a citizen’s life. The interesting fact is that there were two sets of rules: one where wealth was equally distributed, and other which aim was to have a capitalist economy with a player who would accumulate the greatest number of properties and would hold an empire with its monopolies.

At the present moment the game is being distributed by the company Hasbro, but it has passed through the hands and discussions of many intermediates such as the ones of a man called Chales Darrow who made adjustments to Magie’s game, and the Parker Brothers’ company which was purchased  by Hasbro, and with it the traditional Monopoly game first published in 1935.  Its success in sales is reflected by the more than 1000 versions of the game that have been on sale during the last 85 years since its introduction to the market, starting with the capitalist Monopoly. But, with all of its success, what is the ideology that carves the mind of billions of players?

To understand its intention let us endeavour to answer why families and friends may play this game whose structure is made to win or lose; whoever wins will naturally have the mental satisfaction of having a better strategy than his opponents.  What is astonishing of the game is its monotonous character. With unlimited rounds past the point where one receives 200 M, a spiral of capital is created and it is clear who is going  to win the game by the point where some people start to get dizzy and go bust. The most surprising thing we need to admire of the winners of the game is not ultimately their strategy, but the basic pillar of this game: its dice, the factor of luck that provides dynamic to the game. It determines where the player’s chip is going to land on, what he is going to purchase, therefore what he will pay for the rent to other players as well. A player’s luck, good or bad, will give victory or failure a course, and most important of all, it may derive the relationships of the members present at the table, resulting in kicks, rage, or even resentment.

At the end of the day, one wants to be amused by a board game, and to be amused, one must get satisfaction with what one achieves during the game. For some, amusement may come accompanied with victory, and for others, it may come along with deceitful actions that could add vividness to the spirits during the game. Whichever way, Magie’s sets of rules for having an equal distribution of wealth are discarded. Maybe, the faults of the classical capitalist monopoly give rise to the new socialist monopoly which is being sold as a critique rather than to praise the government system. 

In the days of the Great Depression of the United States when the first Monopoly was introduced, deflation affected all the country with decreasing profits and increasing unemployment. They were times of uncertainty and poverty for most of the country. By surprise, Monopoly came full of hopes to resemble the revival of the roaring economy of America as the most powerful economy of the time. Together with Roosevelt’s New Deal, households with Monopoly could see the light of prosperity by holding money in their hands – they had the power of acquisition. Still, impoverished homes could not afford to buy a game set. So who got influenced by capitalist ideas? The privileged in wealth. Even though this happens, they can also see the struggle of the most impoverished in the game and in the country. One is not blind to the difficulties of the clearly visible losers, but it is natural to rejoice over one’s wealth while other players lose. This may seem as a wrongful action by its lack of moral empathy for the other. Is Monopoly a game that serves to highlight the weaknesses of capitalism? Or is it a game to make us see what type of wealth carrier we are, those who choose their own wellbeing over that of the rest, or those who choose an overall wellbeing of all players? Is creating a mixed economy “monopoly game” even possible? However, even with all these questions, it all narrows down to how much fun the customers experience during the game, which is the sole purpose after transmitting an ideology and earning money with its production. 

Monopoly was released to the public during a crisis. What new board game can the present spread of covid-19 give rise to?

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