Monopoly – What does it say about us?

I’ve always been a fan of Monopoly, the game not the business practice, although we have plenty of them out there. Monopoly is such a simple game, yet it’s hard to master. There is as much luck as skill involved. Sure, you can plot your strategy of when to buy houses and hotel, when is it a good time to stay in jail or try to get out and what fabulous deal can you offer the other players to get the properties you need. It’s also funny how quickly you can hit a stalemate. Once that initial land rush is over, if you didn’t grab some key properties you may find yourself wandering in circles.

But beyond the game itself, it’s interesting how Monopoly has been defined as a mainstream game. Of course there was the original game with wooden pegs. Then it changed to metal figures, specifically the dog, thimble and all the others. Then it began to keep up with current events. We have college branded Monopoly sets, TV and movies boards as well. There is even the “Here and Now” edition that races the stakes to emulate the wild technology boon we’ve seen.

And Monopoly goes beyond a simple US game. It’s basically played all over the world. For example, I have an Australian version and a French version. I hope to have an Indian version once my friend returns for his vacation in his home country. I find it fascinating to see what places each country puts as their highest and lowest valued properties. What will the “Utilities” be? What will they use for the “Railroad” spaces? What color will the money be? Considering most currencies actually look like Monopoly money to most people, the board currency is quite dull in comparison. I think it’s an interesting glimpse of a culture to see what their Monopoly board looks like.

The idea of taxation is different between cultures and between versions. In some places it’s a sales tax, in others a flat tax, in others still a super tax. It may be a percentage, it may be a flat rate. It more coincides with the tax system of the location than always sticking to the original rules.

It’s strange that in this modern time of computer games, Playstation, Xbox and more things with lights and buzzers than you can shake a stick at that Monopoly is still going strong. Sure, there are computer versions, and I’ve spent many a wonderful hour playing those versions, but it’s hard to beat the fun and social gaming aspect of sitting around a real table with real people moving real game pieces.

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