Corporations are people too. . . in this new version of Monopoly, where players are no longer represented by the homely thimble or iron, but by brands: Granny can be…
Corporations are people too. . . in this new version of Monopoly, where players are no longer represented by the homely thimble or iron, but by brands: Granny can be McDonalds French fries while Uncle Bobby is a Coca-Cola bottle.
This is the latest iteration of Monopoly, Monopoly Empire, in which players aim to control the world’s most powerful brands, including Coca-Cola, X-Box, eBay and McDonalds, and it represents a far cry from the original Monopoly, invented in 1903 by Lizzie Magie who created the game to demonstrate the risks of landgrabbing by speculators.
Along the way, her progressive-era message was lost in translation (just as the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and the accompanying resurgence in Gatsby-themed parties, glorify the decadence that F. Scott Fitzgerald skewered).
This was partially a result of Hasbro’s intentional erasure of the roots of the game, claiming it began in 1935 (when Charles Darrow sold the idea to Parker Brothers) — when it became the game of control of real estate that most of us have played for decades.
As far as quality goes, reviews are mixed. Some denounced the fact the game is now shorter with one Amazon reviewer writing that, “the game has been ‘dumbed-down,'” while another said it was actually more fun than the traditional game. Stick with it, wrote Marty Beckerman of Guy Code Blog, because “Monopoly Empire is way more fun than the original: A faster pace (for the Twitter generation) and more cutthroat strategy (for the Bernie Madoff generation).” Others have commented on its glitzy but much darker appearance.
The New York Times pointed out “while changes to Monopoly’s essence (including the recent ousting of the iron token) may cause grumblings, they remind us that board games (like books, movies or video games) reflect an ever-changing national conversation.” The game certainly seems to reflect today’s Gilded Age, whose widening gap between wealthy and poor, and corporate power might perhaps be recognizable to Lizzie Magie.
Is this new Monopoly a reflection of societal values that extol corporations, or is it more fun to trade in companies than real estate? And by the way, are Coca-Cola, McDonalds and eBay paying Monopoly for the valuable real estate on the coveted Monopoly board?