Was Monopoly originally meant to teach people about the evils of capitalism?

The new article this week (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2986/was-monopoly-originally-meant-to-teach-people-about-the-evils-of-capitalism) was very interesting, cause I’d never heard of this ‘original’ game that came out quite a bit before Monopoly.

I have another board game that I wonder if it was ment in the same light as The Landlord’s Game. It’s called Anti-Monopoly, and my copy dates back to the 70’s. I bought it at a yard sale some time ago, and it’s boxed up now, so not sure of the original date. This is a first edition, though, and I understand that at least one more run of the game was made.

It plays very close to Monopoly, except in this version you’re trying to bust monoplies by bringing indictments aganist them, and shutting them down. From what I learned in school of that decade (I was born in 76) people were very concerned about capitalism getting too much out of hand, and it resulted in new laws being passed and big companies like AT&T being broken up.

It seems the game was made to ‘cash in’ on that and teach people about the ‘evils’ of companies getting too large and powerfull. Shades of what we see now again with Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Apple?

On another note, I wonder how much my version is worth, speaking about money… :slight_smile:

The game Anti-Monopoly is still around, so your game isn’t actually rare, though it may be worth something if it has some first-edition goodness.

It was not directly based on The Landlord Game; in fact, Parker Brothers had almost succeeded in erasing The Landlord Game from history when research to defend against the Parker Brothers lawsuit over Anti-Monopoly led to the rediscovery of the older game.

From the column, Cecil points out that the intent of the original game was to teach the evils of capitalism, but he effect was to teach that capitalism is good.

This is because the game is structured such that the winner is the one with the most money. See, in a typical game, one person ends up owning everything and getting all the money, and everyone else is broke or in debt. The theory being that everyone else sees how everyone is screwed but the one owner of everything, and thus learns that the game is wholely unfair. And on multiple iterations, everyone will have a chance to be a loser, thus learning that perspective.

The problem is that it is typical of all games, where there is one winner and the rest are losers. Thus the philosophy of making your teaching tool a game is subverted by the nature of games themselves. In a game, you strive to be the winner, regardless and sometimes especially because of the cost to the rest of the players. Monopoly makes the one who owns everything the objective of the game, and thus teaches the inverse of what it intended to teach.

There are some games (Dungeons and Dragons, for instance) that pit the Group as a whole against the game. “Winning” is thus a group activity rather than an individual goal. Thus clearly teaching socialism. Well, teaching team-work, anyhow. Not unlike basketball, say.

I’ve also seen board games that are played cooperatively. One I remember was called something like “Shadows over Camelot”. Although that does still have the possibility of one player secretly being a traitor, and winning iff everyone else loses.

Monopoly is a pretty cut-throat game. It really brings out the worst in people (which is why I like it!). When I first learned about The Landlord Game, I thought it made perfect sense!

One of my favorite games is Cranium’s Hoopla because it is easy to learn, fun and cooperative. Everyone wins or everyone loses which means I don’t have to mediate fights or lose pieces because someone decided to earthquake the gameboard.

Magie’s idea to teach the evils of capitalism through her games seems somewhat like trying to teach the evils of gambling through poker. Yes, at the end of the night one person has all the chips and the rest lose their entire stake, but somehow it doesn’t seem to teach the lesson to poker players that they shouldn’t gamble. It teaches the lesson that they should gamble better.

It’s a little more than that. The basic idea is that the first one to pull out in front proceeds to inexorably crush everyone else. “Them that has the gold makes the rules.”

Figures I go and post something like that and then get bitch-slapped. :smack:

I completely understand the idea of both Monopoly and The Landlord’s Game as arguments against capitalism. My main problem with Monopoly is that there is hardly any skill involved in winning. In most games one player, usually the first to roll the dice, establishes an early lead and wins. Players make a limited number of decisions during the game: Buy or don’t, build or don’t, mortgage or don’t. Even these affect the odds of winning much less than getting lucky dice rolls and going first. Finally, I’ve never seen a monopoly game that didn’t end with one player slowly grinding another down while everyone else either sat around looking bored or went to watch television.

Of course, all that being said, whether the games premises are true and can be applied to real life is an exercise left to the reader.

Nobody has mentioned the Mad Magazine game? I can’t remember it very well–my cousin had it, and I only played it a few times twenty-five or so years ago. But the object was to lose all your money–the “bad” things would give you money, and the “good” things would take it away.

It was actually quite fun.

We usually ended the game early. At a certain point, it’s clear who’s going to win. Also, if playing with multiple people, the game was over when one person lost, and the person with the most money won.

On the other hand, my dad and uncle played the game all the way through–they just only played in short snipits. All you had to do was write down where you were and which properties had buildings and keep everything else in separate piles.

BTW, none of us ever bid in an auction or knew about trading until we tried out the video game versions. But we also didn’t modify free parking. If we modified anything, it was how much money we started with.

My god, this game is more realistic than I realized.

I still have this game, and my daughter plays it with her friends whenever they come over. It’s one of our favorite board games.

Here’s a history of Anti-Monoply. Can’t vouch for it’s veracity,but it makes a ripping yarn:


The game came out in 1974. I was a huge Monopoly addict at the time, and my mother gave me a first edition of Anti-Monopoly for Christmas. (Tells you a lot about our relationship right there.) I opened the box, read the rules, and thought, what a dumb game. Never separated the die-cut pieces from their sheets.

The following year, the makers lost a copyright infringement case (later overturned), and briefly changed the name – “Bust the Trust,” I think. Mom found the unplayed game in the basement and wrote a sticky note about how this game was now a treasure. The mind reels. Maybe if it were a decent freaking game.

Anyway, I pitched it when I moved out in '83.

The people who hate capitalism can be generally divided into two groups (often overlapping) - 1) those receiving money from the state or 2) those who have a mistaken idea about what capitalism actually is. The Monopoly board game has nothing to do with capitalism.

coincidentally, the bad things you read in the news have also nothing to do with capitalism

by the way, here is a board game spoof criticizing socialism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR2ipu20WBQ

You might want to avoid saying the direct opposite of established historic facts here. The idea is to fight ignorance, not to promote it.

What I meant is that the gameplay in no way illustrates the principles working in capitalism, let alone educating the players about anything connected to capitalism.
I’m very well aware that it’s based on what many people incorrectly perceive(d) as “capitalism” and to this day the ignorance regarding what capitalism really is and what it isn’t is promoted. I’m indeed trying to fight the ignorance by pointing this out.

So are you saying that, say, Donald Trump isn’t a capitalist?