Thursday, July 10, 2008

Monopoly - A Game That Can Be Made Fun (and Made a Lesson in Real Life)

Melissa's post today is about Monopoly, a game Ellie and I love to play. We've actually played three games in a row before. So, given Melissa's problems with the game,s I decided to share some advice on how Ellie and I came to enjoy the game more.
  • If you play with $500 in free parking, quit. We did because I almost always got it, and it drove Ellie nuts. We only put fines there now, so it's not nearly such a windfall.
  • Don't make deals to keep people in the game. Yes, it sounds harsh, but it is actually a little bit of a lesson in real life, because most people in the real world aren't going to be easy on a person who owes three times his net worth. We've also learned that it unecessarily prolongs the game since it often would require a run of huge luck for the person who gets "kept in" to actually win.

Now, another thing I would suggest is playing the "fast game." Recently, we played with friends in a way that sped up those "early stages" and actually speeds up everything. Int's not necessary to go out and buy the game, but there is a third die in new games that has a 1, 2, and 3 on half, then the other half is two buses and a little man. We made the buses 4 and 6 and the little man five on a different colored die to accomplish this without spending more money to have a game we already own. Anyway, a person gets to start rolling the third die after he's made one trip around the board (getting sent to go counts as having gone around). Everyone also starts with an extra $1,000 at the beginning. The third die has two functions: it speeds progress around the board, and it speeds purchase of properties. The bus makes it so a person can choose between the other two dice and move just the number on one or the other (or choose both). The little man sends the person to the next unowned property until all the property is acquired (so it cuts down on one person getting way ahead while others are just chasing behind and paying rent). Once all the property is acquired, the little man sends the person to the next property he DOES NOT own (so it speeds up his demise). If a 1,2, or 3 is rolled, then it is simply tacked on to the first two dice to make a bigger roll. What happens is a much faster game where all the properties quickly get distributed, and once that happens, people tend to win or lose more quickly.

Oh, and one last bit of advice - call for a moratorium on gloating and pouting. Imagine if a hotel clerk gloated in a person's face every time he checked someone in - that hotel would lose business. Gloating does make the game miserable, and pouting does, too (who wants to travel with someone who always whines when he has to pay?). Having to put up with gloating or whining makes any game intolerable (does anyone want to invite back the guy who whines about losing at poker - unless he willingly loses a pile of cash in the process every time?).

Winning and losing are a part of life, and both are good lessons to learn. My brother used to pound me into oblivion every time we played. He would take all my ridiculous deals (I had a bad problem with NEEDING Boardwalk and Park Place, and like any addict I would pay a premium to get it every game). What I learned from him not taking it easy on me was that I was playing the game poorly. I learned to quit selling my soul to get particular things and instead just went with it. I'm not sure I ever beat my brother - I was just nine when he died, so it's likely I didn't - but I am thankful for the lesson he taught me. Children need to learn how to play games well without being given a free pass on the hard knocks of the game. My family never let me win at cards when I was little, either, and now I am good at any card game I've ever bothered to learn. Too many people in today's society think we should avoid letting children "suffer" by getting bad grades, lose at sports, or in any way feel like they aren't the best. The problem is, we're setting children up to fail in the real world that way. Someone wins, someone loses, more often than not. Win-win is a cute buzzword, mostly. Occasionally two people both get what they want, and that's great, but it's foolhardy to prepare children to think that a boss, a coworker, a spouse, or anyone is going to "let them win" at life. So the next time a child asks to play Monopoly, try my rules, and teach him to enjoy a game I love.

-- Robert


Melissa said...

No,not B5. War Games. Ally Sheedy. Matthew Broderick. Dabney Coleman. Classic early 80's flick.

And although your suggestions look good, it would take all of the "fun" out of it. :)

Robert said...

I remember War Games. Classic flick. Sorry I missed it, but I haven't seen it in ages.

And I suppose the "fun" of monopoly for too many stems from the desire to stand atop a pile of bodies, having taken all their money. I suppose I am too into looking deeper when I play some games, and so I find myself enjoying the statistics of the game and enjoying the comparisons between a "child's" game and the real world. It really is a fascinating experiment. Maybe one day I'll have undergraduate business students spend a week playing it and writing papers about the experience...... (I'll have to write that one down)