Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quickie Comment: The History of the World's Most Famous Board Game

If you grew up, or have lived, in North America, chances are you've played Monopoly. You probably know that the original version is based on Atlantic City, New Jersey. On my first trip to that city at age 11, I earnestly searched for all of the Monopoly streets. If you travel at all, you've seen other versions too: the New York City or Chicago versions, the University of Iowa or Virginia Tech versions, the US National Parks version, and so on and so forth. I grew up playing the American Atlantic City version, with the little metal playing pieces: a dog, a steamboat, a car. . . . When I visited Canada on vacation, I was surprised to learn that there is a Canadian Atlantic City version with completely different playing pieces, including a little wooden milk bottle.

If you go to the Monopoly home page, sponsored by Hasbro (the game's manufacturers), you will read that the game was invented in the 1930s. If you read Philip E. Orbanes book, Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game - And How It Got That Way, you'll learn that an earlier "folk" version of the game, called The Landlord's Game, had been circulating for about three decades before Hasbro introduced its mass-market version. It seems that Monopoly's history is not as straight-forward as Hasbro would like consumers to believe. Given the game's premise, this is, to say the least, an amusing irony.

If you want to learn more about Orbane's book, you can read David Parlett's fine review of it here. Don't be surprised if, upon reading his review, you're inspired to head over to your nearest bookseller so that you may read more about the world's most famous game. After you've done that, you'll undoubtedly amaze family and friends, the next time you play Monopoly, with your insightful knowledge of the game's provenance. In my case, that may alleviate my pain when I suffer yet another bankruptcy at Park Place.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I love that game!