Monopoly, meet Big (Brother) Tower

All twelve tokens from the U.S. Deluxe Edition...
Mr. Tower, sir, what piece may I use? (Image via Wikipedia)

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.

5 thoughts on “Monopoly, meet Big (Brother) Tower

  1. That new version of Monopoly doesn’t sound like fun at all. We have enjoyed many hours of fun with our chilldren playing Monopoly and doubt they will enjoy any other kind.

  2. Leona D

    A couple quotes from the article stood out to me. First:

    the original Monopoly, issued in 1935 by Parker Brothers, now a subsidiary of Hasbro, reflected “American ingenuity, the sense of needing to have hope, and reinforcing capitalism in the face of real economic despair,”

    Aren’t these the same things we need today??? Instead, this version is supposedly “less and less about financial awareness.” That’s unfortunate in a world that is drowning in debt and full of people who don’t realize how much their credit cards will cost them in the long run or who don’t realize they have to pay back what they charge to those cards.

    Secondly, while the game claims to be more social in this technology enhanced form, it does seem that there are more social aspects that it takes away than it adds.

    “Being able to negotiate with others, make up your own rules, argue with other players, that, to me, is part of what makes it a successful social game,” he said. The tower is “more of that blind adherence to following orders, versus being able to figure out and learn the game for yourself.”

    Our society has cultivated a generation of people who can’t think for themselves (at least not very effectively or critically). It seems to me that this new version of Monopoly only re-enforces the apparent desire to make zombies/robots of our future generations.

    In relation to that, taking away the ability to break the rules takes away the moral aspect. Being able to break rules in games and experiencing the consequences associated as well as understanding cause and effect of decisions are taken away by the digital tower which enforces militaristic rule over the events. Without opportunities to learn some of these concepts through something as “meaningless” as games, will those of future generations be able to make moral, ethical, and/or logical decisions in the real world?

  3. Excellent points, Leona. I supposed they could make the play one level worse by having the tower text you its responses and commands instead of speaking them aloud. Then verbal interaction with others could be eliminated, entirely!

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