World Domination: A Game of Monopoly

Have you ever played the based on real life game of Monopoly?  If so, do you have a favourite pewter token that you almost always play with?  I do!  Mine is the boot.  Most of us could do a decent job to describe the game of Monopoly in general terms.  This is because this game is everywhere with different versions, and themes like SpongeBob, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, but the main concept remains unchanged.

Monopoly was inducted into the US National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.  The Strong which is where the Toy Hall is housed, and its Curator, Nicolas Ricketts, published a story about its acquisition of a historic 1933 “tie-box” Monopoly set in 2010.  Known as the Heap Folk Art Monopoly, this version predates the accepted Monopoly “inventor” Charles Darrow’s published version by about 20 years.

It is now accepted that conceptual versions of Monopoly with local landmarks existed as early as 1910.  Better called “homemade Monopoly boards” represented the local users area landmarks, such as John Heap’s Altoona, PA (USA) version which he made for his son, Roy.  Roy’s memories of playing his father’s version from 1910 – 1917 helped Professor Ralph Anspach win his version called Anti-Monopoly in 1975.  The toy company General Mills which owned the games’ rights, sued Anspach for use of the Monopoly name, but the US Supreme Court supported claims that pre-Darrow versions of the came existed.

If we were to go back even further, we will find that a 1903 version of Monopoly was first born, effectively being designed as an educational tool to explain the theory of a single tax.  Her game was called “The Landlord’s Game” which she published in 1906.  Similar to today’s version, her game play involved owning, developing and selling land.

At the heart of the game of Monopoly is an economic concept in which the goal is to have sole control of the market.  Players use their turns to buy, trade and develop land through ownership of houses and hotels.  Players collect rent and dominate land to bankrupt opponents.  It is important to remember that even if the bank runs out of physical cash, the game goes on.

A well liked feature of the game is the “Jail” portion where if a player is sent to jail, direct play puts said player in jail.  To be released, player must pay $50, roll a double, or possess a “get out of jail” card.  This is different for “visiting jail”, where the player has NOT been sent to jail.

Many versions of this well liked game exist.  The US versions held mainly colour changes, flat $200 Tax, and altered wording references (like poor tax to speeding fine).  This version’s properties reference Atlantic City, New Jersey.  A note of interest in the standard US version is that in 1995, Parker Brothers acknowledged the misspelling of the now Marven Gardens, and acknowledgement of the four railroads that served Atlantic City in the 1930s.


As for the UK version, the interesting part of its beginning is that in the 1930s John Waddington Ltd sent a card game they developed and called Lexicon to Parker Brothers to entice the US counterparts to publish the Lexicon.  Parker Brothers also sent over their copy of Monopoly to the Waddingtons in early 1935 in the same spirit.  A transatlantic call ensued when Victor Watson of Waddingtons called Parker Brothers.  He believed that for the game to be accepted in the UK, locale names had to be replaced.  A trip to London with this secretary took place for this purpose.  In countries in the Commonwealth with Canada as exception, the standard British version was used.

More recently, modernized US and UK versions were made to include a “mega”, “here and now” and digital editions.  There have been token additions and retirements, currencies additions and cost changes, die variations, just to name a few, but a basic monopoly set includes cards, deeds, dice, houses, hotels, money, tokens, and rules.

Official rules specify the parts of the game that make this a truly spectacular entertainment worthy of its game length.  Chance and Community Chest, Jail, Properties, Mortgaging, Bankruptcy, House rules, and at this very central the Bank are all vital parts of Monopoly.

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