The Surprising Origin Of Monopoly (repost)

We all know the game of Monopoly and I think most of us have played it in one of its many forms. I've played it myself when I was still in school, a lifetime ago it seems...


mr-monopoly.jpg
source: Costume Wall

But I do remember that the game was always different, no two games were the same because most of it takes place off the board: there's trades and negotiations to be made, and every deal with every person around the table takes a different approach. The goal of the games stays the same however: at the end one person owns everything and all others are left bankrupt. The humongous worldwide success of this game makes a great point for free market capitalism, as it is called often a game that simulates life; it seems to fit our "nature".

Mr. Monopoly is modeled after the legendary financier and banker John Pierpont Morgan, complete with handlebar mustache, tuxedo and top hat. The Monopoly mascot was originally called "Rich Uncle Pennybag", which might lead you to think that the game might have been designed as a parody or a critique on capitalism. And you would be right...

Monopoly is widely believed to be the creation of Charles Darrow, who sold it to Parker Brothers Incorporated, who sold the first copies in 1935. In truth however, the origin of the game can be traced back to 1903, when a young activist named Lizzie Magie develops the The Landlord's Game; I bet almost none of you ever heard that game mentioned before.


BoardGamePatentMagie.png
source: Wikipedia

The Landlord's Game had almost everything that Monopoly has today, including properties and railway-stations to be bought, a "Go To Jail" square and a jail. Magie made the game to promote the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants; she wanted to show how ridiculous and criminal the system was where a small number of people get very rich and all others have to suffer for the crime of not being there first.

It's tragic that 30 years later, after three unsuccessful attempts to get her game accepted by one of the large game publishers, like Parkers, she saw almost the exact same game being published under the name Monopoly and saw it being hailed as a celebration of the very thing she tried to combat. Watch this short history of the origin of this world famous game:


Who Really Invented Monopoly?

What do you think about this game? It is after all the only game where you can make your friends bankrupt, see them being thrown in jail, be happy about all of that and still remain friends afterwards. ;-)


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