SPIR608 Political Simulations and Gaming/2013/Week 1

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Monday 14th January


Week 1 Discussion of Charles Darrow and Elizabeth Magie Phillips, Monopoly.

Landlords Game board based on 1924 patent, precursor of Monopoly
Wikiversity Image credit:

Is the design of the game's mechanics (board, pieces, cards, etc.) fit for purpose?[edit | edit source]

You can not manipulate pieces and can not buy the whole set.

Its easy to play without instructions as you can work out the the rules of the game through instructions on cards and board which is a great lesson for designing your own game.

Is the game enjoyable and sociable to play?[edit | edit source]

Very fun! Even if you lose or are unlucky you can still enjoy the game.

The game is sociable, relying on bluff and constant interaction with the use of barter for the development of matching sets, and monopoly.

What techniques does the game use to model its chosen subject?[edit | edit source]

Attempting to model the property market.

The game develops through three main phases, the free trade (property forming), forming monopoly and supermonopoly. The use of chance to mimic the risk and behaviour of the entrepreneur.

Theory is embodied in the structure of the game, monopolistic tendency.

The game ultimately reinforces capitalistic behavioural norms, as the mechanics of the game overwhelm the anti-capitalist theory, players become the monopolist.

Going to jail in monopoly, which would normally be seen as a negative, is positive in Monopoly, as it allows property owners to collect on their property rents without having to risk their own capital gallivanting around the board.

How does the game combine abstraction and realism in its workings?[edit | edit source]

Abstraction is the fact that we start the same which doesn't happen in real life!

The pre-Darrow game allows players to overcome the traditional rule set and unite as a the supermonopolist, pooling their resources and becoming the Georgist 'General Landlord'.

It was developed in very particular way, based on the writings of Henry George in Progress and Property (1879). Realism is that players become the competitive capitalists within the game.

I constantly pursued Islington in the game as I want to live in Islington in real life. So it felt very real to me! Realism in discovering risks that exist if you are a property developer.

Abstraction creates realism, it is the way you experience the game. It's a different form of realism,what do you mean by realism? A psychological realism, of the mindset, not of the mathematical-historical-fact realism of military war gaming.

All games abstract from real life and this one is not exception.

What political lessons can people learn by playing the game?[edit | edit source]

The game has its basis in socialist teachings and was created as an anticapitalist game, but this history has been obscured, to the extent that the Soviet Union banned Monopoly as capitalist propaganda.

Anti-monopoly, was developed as the anti-capitalist counterpart to Monopoly because Ansbuck did not realise the game's socialist message. In his game you break up monopolies – free market Hayek-style, rather more a capitalist game than Monopoly.

Players learn the skills inherent to surving in a market environment, luck, risk, money managing.

Mainaccio, former US Monopoly Champion, states that the key skill to realise in Monopoly is that the game, as in real life, you win not by accumulation of money, but of property. Monopoly is not about unleashing the creativity of the market, or innovation, or opening new markets, expanding trade, creating worth through hard work, it is about shutting down the market place through monopoly.

The political values of Henry George espoused in Progress and Property.

Zero-sum markets.

There are always winners and losers in capitalist system- one gets everything and the rest get nothing. Shuts down free market as you can buy all property.

The pre-Darrow version allowed players to unite in cooperation to become the supermonopolist.

How would you improve the structure and mechanics of the game?[edit | edit source]

If you lose because you are unlucky it would be great to have a card that gives you chance to come back! If you don't get any property you lose immediately.

Property went very quickly -you are left with lots of money.

It would be great to have possibility of auctions and foreign investment.

I would love to see the prospect of the collapse of the system or crisis as a whole, as financial crisis in 2008. That would show the fault of the system!

Links[edit | edit source]