Why Monopoly is Too Realistic for Kids

May 26th, 2011 | Filed under Politics

Before anybody starts, I know, it’s just a game.. But..

What sort of example does the game of Monopoly actually set to young people?

Something on Twitter has made me wonder about what sort of primer it is for the rest of life.. In Monopoly, the banker controls all the money. In fact, the only significant flow of money into the game is the $200 you receive for passing Go. That’s right, the banker pays you to run in a circle.

So you spend your time running around in a circle while the banker pays you a measly sum for every circuit, and occupy yourself with the single-minded pursuit of capital, with the end goal of running all your opponents out of business. The banker sits there at the beginning of the game, initially holding all the deeds and all the money, and watches as you spend the entire game fighting against the people who had the same humble beginning as you. At no point does anybody try to challenge that dynamic.

Release from jail (to which you are sent without a trial, fair or otherwise) is dependent on an entirely arbitrary parole decision (rolling a double), bribing the banker for your release (paying $50), or calling in a favour available only to a select privileged few (get out of jail free card). What does that teach kids about the justice system? Probably more than we’d like..

Of course, perhaps this level of scary and depressing realism is deliberate. If so, I have a few updates to suggest:

  • Currently, when you mortgage a property, you can’t collect rent on it. A new “Buy to Let” rule would mean that if you mortgage a property and somebody lands on it, they pay off the mortgage for you.
  • Anybody playing as the car has to complain about the “war on motorists” every turn. If you’re playing as the battleship, if you roll a double-one, that means you’ve been scrapped as part of cuts, you lose.
  • Scrap “super tax”, the public will never buy that.. Instead call it “National Insurance”. If the person who lands on it is in the bottom 90% of players ranked by wealth, they pay 10% of their cash. If they’re in the top 10%, they pay just 1% of their cash.
  • Fractional reserve banking – the banker should be able to lend your own money back to you several times over, effectively using IOUs to circulate money that does not strictly exist. You may need to print more Monopoly Money to achieve this…

If we’re going for a realistic depiction of financial abuse (and let’s face it, the game is called “Monopoly”), we should at least be aiming for as much realism as possible, right…?

  1. Mike
    May 30th, 2011 at 15:11
    Reply | Quote | #1

    It’d be a little more realistic if your amount of starting cash was determined completely by chance. The ones who start with little struggle just to pay rent while the ones who got lucky buy up everything and use it to get more.