Monopoly Monopolizing the Board Game Industry
November 4, 2009 by Chip Wood
Out of the depths of the Great Depression came the most popular board game in history. More than 750 million people have played some version of Monopoly since the game made its debut on Nov. 5, 1935.
Among various special editions that have been issued, Neiman Marcus offered one in their 1978 Christmas Wish Book where every element—board, tokens, cards, dice and money—was made of chocolate. Then in 2000, F.A.O. Schwartz toy company produced a “One of a Kind” Monopoly set. The department store topped the hotels and houses with emeralds and sapphires. It also made the tokens of solid gold, and the money was real currency. For $100,000, you could take it home.
Before the collapse of communism you could buy a version of Monopoly in Russian, which strikes me as pretty ironic. And Mad Magazine once created an anti-Monopoly game, where the objective was to lose all of your money as quickly as possible.
The best-known edition of Monopoly is the original “Atlantic City” version. The city’s streets, railroads and utilities were chosen by Charles Darrow, the game’s inventor, long before Donald Trump and numerous casinos transformed the town. Boardwalk and Park Place were the most valuable properties, with Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues the least desirable.
If you managed to buy up all properties of one color (or all railroads, or utilities), you had a monopoly and could jack up the rents. The goal of the game, after all, was to bankrupt your opponents and grab all of their money. (Bet you never thought about the anti-capitalist philosophy behind the game, did you?)
One of the problems with Monopoly is that the game can take forever to play. (Hasbro, the game’s current owner, says the longest one on record lasted 1,680 hours.) Most contests today have a time limit—two hours at the national championships.