The Rules of Play

Kate Raworth
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Worth quoting at length this capsule history of the Monopoly board game.

The game’s inventor, Elizabeth Magie, was an outspoken supporter of Henry George‘s ideas, and when she first created her game in 1903, she gave it two very different sets of rules to be played in turn. Under the ‘Prosperity’ set of rules, every player gained each time someone acquired a new property (echoing George’s call for a land value tax), and the game was won (by all) when the player who had started out with the least money had doubled it. Under the second, ‘Monopolist’ set of rules, players gained by charging rent to those who were unfortunate enough to land on their properties — and whoever, managed to bankrupt the rest was the sole winner. The purpose of the dual sets of rules, said Magie, was for players to experience a ‘practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences’ and so understand how different approaches to property ownership can lead to vastly different social outcomes. ‘It might well have been called “The Game of Life”, remarked Magie, ‘as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world.’ But when the games manufacturer, Parker Brothers, bought the patent for The Landlord’s Game from Magie in the 1930s, they relaunched it simply as Monopoly and provided the eager public with just one set of rules: those that celebrate the triumph of one over all.

Summarized from a New York Times article by Mary Pilon author of
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game – a history worth circulating.

And so for day 2879

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