Monopoly: a game responsible for causing arguments in living rooms around the world. But according to a new book, we’ve been playing it wrong.
Or at least, not how the game’s original inventor intended it to be played.
Writing about his new book in an article for VICE, games expert, Tristan Donovan, delves into the popular game’s history.
Inspired by economist Henry George, a woman named Elizabeth Magie invented The Landlord's Game in 1902, from which Monopoly was adopted, as a way to teach children about the injustices of landlords getting rich off the poor.
‘The economist Henry George believed he had a better answer to the inequality tearing the country apart, and in 1879 he set out his plan in a book called Progress and Poverty,’ writes Donovan.
‘George argued that undeveloped land was God given and any increase in its value was due to the work was done by people. As such, the money landlords made simply from owning land really belonged to everyone and the government should take all of that money back on behalf of society by imposing a land value tax.
‘The income from this tax, George believed, would be so vast that all other taxes could then be abolished, a move that would let people keep all the proceeds from their own labour.’
In an article published on The New York Times, Mary Pilon, author of a book about Monopoly's hidden history, said Elizabeth came up with two sets of rules for The Landlord’s Game.
'She created two sets of rules for her game: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents.
'Her dualistic approach was a teaching tool meant to demonstrate that the first set of rules was morally superior.'
As popularity for the game began to spread, Charles Darrow pitched his version of it to the Parker Brothers. The company then bought Elizabeth’s rights The Landlord’s game, the single tax system set of rules was abolished and Monopoly was born.
Despite the original point of the game being lost, it turns out the family feuds waged while playing are actually a good thing.
'There are those who argue that it may be a dangerous thing to teach children how they may thus get the advantage of their fellows, but let me tell you there are no fairer-minded beings in the world than our own little American children,’ Elizabeth wrote in 1902.
'Watch them in their play and see how quick they are, should any one of their number attempt to cheat or take undue advantage of another, to cry, "No fair!" And who has not heard almost every little girl say, "I won't play if you don't play fair.'
'Let the children once see clearly the gross injustice of our present land system and when they grow up, if they are allowed to develop naturally, the evil will soon be remedied.'