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Monday, October 14, 2013

Remind me again why people play Monopoly?

Because if you want to ruin a perfectly good friendship, play Monopoly. Come on! I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. According to Hasbro, more than one BILLION people have played Monopoly since it first hit store shelves in the 1930's. So there’s got to be more of “us” out there. 
What better way to bond with family and friends than have one of you dominate financially? Right?!?
Even the game’s name tells you how much fun you won't have when you play. According to Merriam-Webster’s, a monopoly is “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service”. Or in simpler terms, a monopoly is an unfair arrangement in which a person or entity corners dick moves like raising prices, or denying access to vital resources, or refusing to sell you Park Place. In essence, the board game Monopoly simulates establishing a business situation that makes everyone hate you. 
Over the years, I’ve played Monopoly more than I care to admit and it always ends in one of two ways: 1) I quit early, or 2) I wish I had. I grew up playing Monopoly with my brothers and sisters – usually on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes, our father would join in too as long as he was BANKRUPTING most of us – and when he wasn’t he was suddenly “too busy” to play. Each game always started the same way… we agreed to play it out to the bitter end, and we agreed to finish no matter how miserable we were. It’s the same principal that makes people climb mountains, or compete against each other on reality TV shows to see who can eat the most African cave dwelling spiders before they puke. It's fun because it isn't fun. Eventually, boredom overwhelmed our sadism. Nothing is fun after five hours. Nothing.
No. not even that
Ok. Maybe that
And binge watching Game of Thrones.
For the few of you out there who haven't played Monopoly, it's an open-ended game designed to cause stalemates. At least that’s generally what happened at our house on Sundays when there were only two of us left. That usually happened between hours four and five. No. We're not competitive. We're not competitive at all. By that point the final two of us left in the game were by ourselves – praying for victory or death. Or both. Because by that point, the prospect of going bankrupt and losing seemed less painful than the threat of real-life starvation. Sometimes it seemed like the $200 you collect for passing “GO” was just enough money to make the game last FOREVER
After enough turns going round and round the board it usually got to the point where one of us - or BOTH - would declare victory if we were still speaking to each other. But the real winners were the ones who went bankrupt hours earlier. They were upstairs with the bucket of Legos. 
Eating popcorn. 
Watching Star Wars. 
Or this... 

Many specialized editions of the game have been produced over the years featuring sports teams, tv shows, cartoons, and more. All simple, cosmetic changes designed to trick the uninformed into giving the game another chance. Most recently, Hasbro gave the lineup of player tokens a makeover. The iron was retired. Why the iron and not the wheelbarrow? Because no one wants to get stuck with the wheelbarrow? Ever. Maybe it was retired because men had no idea what it was and women didn’t want to be reminded of what they had to do when the game was over.
The iron was replaced by a cat token. That makes sense when you think about it. A cat is understandable to lonely men and women alike. I'm convinced those are the only kind of people who play Monopoly. If they aren’t lonely when the game started, they are by the time the game ends According to Hasbro, the longest Monopoly game in history lasted for 70 days, a fact anyone who has ever played the game will find entirely believable. 
So next time you're tempted to play Monopoly why don't you try to do something quicker and easier instead. Like learning quantum physics. Or finding Pikachu... 

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