Hasbro, maker of Connect Four, Twister, The Game of Life, really bad movies and Monopoly, has announced that it will replace the fake money in 80 of its boxes in France with real money. That’s a promotion worth $23,610 and a fun idea, but it’s not enough to make a game that hasn’t been relevant since William Jennings Bryan was screaming about the silver standard speak to a modern, financially literate audience. It’s time to consider how to transform a robber baron-inspired antique into something relevant.
Here’s how the game can pivot in nine easy steps:
1) Let’s start with the board. In the current iteration of Monopoly, success is correlated with number of streets owned in Atlantic City, which is where all those names come from by the way. In real life, you can pick up a condo on Ventnor Avenue (one of the vaunted Yellow squares) for $35,000, down from roughly $100,000 a decade ago. Owning pieces of a depressed city in Jersey is probably not a good metric for achievement. Here’s you replacement: percentages of a market. The light blues can represent the maximum legally viable percentage of a national market a company could get away with owning (40%?). A green property can represent, let’s say, pharmaceuticals – just spitballing.
2) The idea of jail is also antiquated. Industrialists don’t go to jail. If you land on that square you can get a light slap on the wrist, say, a fine of 10 percent. The percentage will, in keeping with this theme, be inversely proportional to wealth. Your rich? No consequences.
3) Speaking of no consequences, let’s talk about banking. It used to be that the banker was basically a teller, giving people there allotted sums and doing basic math. No more. The banker will now take a percentage on every deal and win the game if he can accumulate more wealth than every other player combined.
4) But the banker won’t be the only one with money. Players should be allowed to invest in each other, serving on each other’s boards and entwining their corporate entities. Excellent players will be able to come from behind by making their ownership stakes in other players so confusing that no one can figure out who owns what.
5) Whoever is winning can determine what they want one of the dice to read before rolling the other. Luck is a thing that poor people wish for and the well-to-do call “planning."
6) The concept of cheating is outdated. If the bank doesn’t catch you passing bad bills or you manage a bit of misdirection when you’re supposed to be paying a fine, that’s a good thing. If someone calls you on it after your turn is over, that’s too late - statute of limitations and all that.
7) "Community Chest" sounds like a particularly tasteless thing to call a woman and we can’t have that sort of misogyny in a modern game. It will be replaced with the Patent Pile, which will allow players to either “Disrupt” industries and steal properties from other players or charge other players for the continued use of the technologies that allow the industries they’ve cornered to run. Patent trolling will be a legitimate tactic.
8) Rather than railroads, the board will feature private jets. They will be exorbitantly expensive, less than helpful, and extremely cool.
9) Instead of ending when everyone gets fed up, new Monopoly will end when a random person who is unclear on the rules of the game walks into the room. This person will preside over a round of lawsuits (everyone sues everyone), awarding penalties and destroying businesses with impunity. Whoever convinces this person to let them keep the most money wins. This person will be encouraged to be self righteous about the whole thing.