Quick hit, today. Hunting for some world news details, I came across this article in the NYTimes website: “No Dice, No Money, No Cheating. Are You Sure This Is Monopoly?”
The article — about the new version of the game, “Monopoly Live” — made me sad, and the pictures and video showing me the giant, speaking tower in the middle of the new board made me think of Big Brother, watching your every move. The new version seems to automate things so much that it takes some of the human element out of the game of Monopoly.
I used to enjoy playing with my parents and sister when I was a kid. We used to call her “Miss Moneybags” because she always accumulated such wealth (the new game has no paper money and keeps track of accounts electronically). In more recent days, our family of six has enjoyed the occasional game, as well, and over the years each has had an opportunity to be the victor in the end, I think.
In the new game, rules are dictated (actually “dictated,” as in spoken out loud) and enforced by the tower, in an effort to eliminate the tiresome task of actually learning the rules. It even rolls virtual dice for you and tells you if you move your piece and incorrect number of spaces. You simply sit there and do as the nice tower/talking, inverted lava lamp tells you to do.
Yet, some of the best moments of play in our family in the last few years have been those very human moments when the new Monopoly Tower would probably have shot one of us with a laser beam. For instance, once one of our boys — in a rare and to this day unrepeated show of concern for his about-to-be-bankrupt brother — actually gave a big chunk of change to his brother. Not a loan or a quid pro quo deal. Just a sympathetic helping hand.
That was somewhat unique in our family Monopoly history (other than times Mom and Dad helped out the wee ones), but other very “human” moments are not, such as when land deals are made not just with cash, but with arrangements. “I’ll sell you this for a lower price, but if you will give me free passage on your properties” and that sort of thing. Wheeling and dealing. Interacting. And (something special to me, at least) doing their own math.
The Tower looks as though it will take some or all of that away. And it looks like an evil blender. That can’t be good.