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Sweet Anti-Monopoly Board Game

Well we made it back to the UK in one piece, I’m still laggy as anything, but I’ll post round ups of the trip at a later date. In a Toronto shopping mall I spotted this in a toy shop window:

The concept of an ‘Anti-monopoly’ game seems quite intriguing. What kind of tokens would you have? MS? Enron? Hasbro? I can visualize community chest cards such as “You’ve won second prize in a corporate responsibility contest” or “You have been caught fiddling with the power grid to manipulate energy markets again, go to jail.”

So I decided to look into Anti-monopoly, and it seems that truth is stranger than fiction after all (fiction being the official description of Hasbro’s Monopoly game history).

It turns out that the modern game we know as Monopoly is based upon a game developed in the early 1900’s called the “Landlord’s Game”. It was actually a game designed to illustrate how rents make landlords richer and tenants poorer. By the late 1920s it was more popularly known as Monopoly and was much the same game then as it is now. One version used Atlantic City street names and was taught to a man named Charles Darrow. Darrow took the game to Parker Brothers and sold it to them, claiming it as his personal invention. The inventors and commercial owners of various other versions of the game were bought out by Parker Brothers in order to give them the claim that it had undisputed rights to the game and all variations thereof, basically giving Parker Brothers the Monopoly on Monopoly-style games.

From here-on in it gets a little strange.

Parker Brothers chose to promote Monopoly as ‘invented by’ Darrow and remained the official history behind Monopoly until the 80s. In the 1970s, the first version of the Anti-Monopoly game was released, developed by an economics professor at San Fransisco State University. Parker Brothers took the game to court, where further facts about the origin of the game were revealed. In the early 80s, the professor won the case, and publication of the game resumed.

You can buy the game from here. Anti-Monopoly is played either by Monopoly or Competition rules set at the start of the game. Competitors charge fair rents, can build as soon as they buy a property and occaisionally have price wars. The monopolists only build after monopolizing a colour grouping, extort higher rents and occaisionally go to prison. According to the site, fairness is achieved by a patented probability technique that gives each side equal chances to win. The objective is to become the richest competitor (as opposed to the only player) when all the monopolists have been defeated or to become the richest monopolist when all the comptetitors have been forced out of the market. Sound familiar? Sounds an awful lot like the IT and Media industries to me.

Incidentally there’s a really great guide to the various historical versions of monopoly/Landlord/Finance, and whilst you’re in the market for monopoly alternatives, be sure to check out Ghettopoly too, a ’stolen property fencing game’ involving crack houses, protection fees and car jackings.

As games go, Monopoly is probably one of the most drawn out games to play, with a distinct possibility of no clear winner (just as in life I guess), but in case you feel like getting the best chances of tipping the odds in your favour (and you don’t fancy playing with Markov Chains till the sun goes down) then you could do worse than read this.

Update: Over at the Board Games and Gaming blog from Jerusalem (phew!) there’s a round-up of 900 (count em!) Monopoly games. I recognise a few of them, but it looks like there’s an awful lot I haven’t yet tried! Also, check out this Italian pimping variant over at the Gnome’s Lair.

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Posted in Gaming, Links, Retro.


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  1. Yehuda Berlinger says

    You can just call my blog “Yehuda”. The long title is because it took a long time for Google to pick me up.

    Yehuda



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