What Makes Monopoly So Great?
Some people like to write off board games as old-fashioned, boring wastes of time that are poor substitutes for video games and other forms of modern entertainment. After all, who would want to play a game of Monopoly when they could turn on an XBox 360 and play the latest Call of Duty for three hours?
This is an attitude with a lot of gamers, especially younger games who grew up playing Nintendo and Playstation. To them, playing a game means sitting in front of a television with a controller, and playing with other people means sitting in front of a television with a controller while talking into a microphone. Isn’t that a lot better than sitting around a table rolling dice with family and friends? Some people think so, but this clearly isn’t the case with everybody. Board games are alive and well, and Monopoly is still one of the most popular board games in the country.
New Variations on an Old Classic
Monopoly was first sold by Parker Brothers in 1935, although it was based on previous games that date back to 1906. The idea that a game that emphasizes earning as much money as possible and bankrupting your opponents could become popular during the Great Depression might sound strange, but that’s exactly what happened. People have been playing Monopoly for nearly eight decades, and they show no signs of slowing down.
The basic rules of Monopoly haven’t changed much since the game’s inception, but part of the game’s enduring popularity is because these basic rules are so wide open to interpretation. Players have developed their own house rules and ways to play the game, and it would seem that no two groups of people play the game exactly the same way. Parker Brothers themselves have gotten into the act as well. There are now countless variations of Monopoly available today, many of which are based on popular licensed properties. You can play a Lord of the Rings version of Monopoly that allows the power of the One Ring to influence gameplay, and kids can play simplified versions of Monopoly with Spongebob Squarepants and Pokemon. The possibilities are endless.
Strategy and Luck
Like a lot of popular board games, Monopoly combines strategy with a little bit of luck. Players have no control over what they roll and where they land on the board, and one bad roll could easily result in you giving all your money to your opponent and ruin your chances of winning. It gets stressful and exciting, especially when things get closer to the endgame. People who enjoy gambling love this element of chance, but winning a game of Monopoly isn’t all about luck. There is a lot of strategy involved, with players having to know what properties to buy, when to improve them and when to make deals with other players. It turns the game into a strategic battle of wits that some have compared to a good game of poker. And yet, the rules are simple enough for anybody to learn in a matter of minutes.
People have been asking for years what makes Monopoly so great, especially since technology and tastes have changed so much over time. At the risk of being too simplistic, Monopoly is just a lot of fun. It’s one of the most competitive board games out there, especially when it’s played against the right people, it’s endlessly customizable and easy to learn if not easy to master. It seems like just about every household has at least one Monopoly game somewhere, even if they spend more time in front of a television than around a game table. Maybe there’s a good reason for that.
Dillon Ventura is a freelance writer primarily interested in board games, cards, CCGs, video games, films, movie trivia and other stuff; for loads of great cards, games and other goodies visit Card Kingdom.