Would you like to play a fun game that “illustrates the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies?” Actually, that would be the description of The Landlord’s Game, which could be called the grandfather of Monopoly. The Landlord’s Game was a self-published board game created by Magie Phillips to show the evils of greed. This was 1906 when greed was very much in the news. Flash ahead to 1935. That’s when the Parker Brothers put out their version of Monopoly. A little digging into history finds that Parker Brothers might have swooped up The Landlord’s Game patent giving them free reign to develop their version. What isn’t in dispute is that Monopoly would go on to become one of the most popular and best selling board games of all times. Here then all are the things you need to know about Monopoly without ever knowing you needed to know them.
Monopoly By The Numbers
As of this writing, there have been over 275 million Monopoly games sold around the globe. That equates to some version of Monopoly showing up in 111 countries, in 43 different languages. Since the first version of the game rolled out of the Parker Brothers’ factory, there have been six billion little greenhouses and 2.25 billion red hotels created. The original Monopoly street names were borrowed from the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey. All of those streets exist to this day with the exception of Illinois Ave, which was named for Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Charles Place; the Showboat Casino is there now. The longest single game of Monopoly went on for 70 days. That’s a lot of “passing go.”
The latest edition of Monopoly features eight tokens: wheelbarrow, battleship, racecar, thimble, boot, Scottie dog, top hat and the recently added cat. Among the retired tokens you’ll find lantern, purse, sack of money, cannon, police cap and the recently retired iron. Some players swear that the outcome of the game is determined by choice of selection. (Sidebar: if we ever play, don’t even think about using the top hat. I call dibs infinity.)
The Great Monopoly Escape
Monopoly was a hit board game right out of the gate. As it happened, it also became a very effective tool for WWII prisoners of war being held by the Nazis. The British Secret Service got together with the United Kingdom’s Monopoly manufacturer and had them create a special edition game. This included maps, compasses, and real money. The games were then delivered to those prisoners by the Red Cross under the guise of providing “distracting fun.” The Germans were none the wiser.
Variations on the Monopoly Theme
It’s hard to imagine getting through life without playing Monopoly at least once. Naturally, there would be tournaments and championships. There are also many variations of the game including video, slot machine, and app versions. Monopoly also has a monopoly on versions of Monopoly. Most major cities around the country and the world have their version of Monopoly that incorporates local landmarks and street names, but the versions don’t stop there. Movie studios license Monopoly to promote everything from Batman to Lord of the Rings to Star Wars to The Godfather with Monopoly versions. There are also brand versions of Coke, Disney, Harley Davidson, Heinz, NFL and even the U.S. Army. Simply put, there is no end to the Monopoly domination. When was the last time you played Monopoly?