The game of Monopoly at age 25 is not the same game it was at 10 or 12. As a kid, theoretical fees, rent and taxes don’t mean much- it can be equated to any other penalty, in any other game. Maybe I’m just bitter, but there was a little too much reality in my recent round of Monopoly to say I enjoyed it.
I think it’s safe to say the general gist of the game is well known – buy property, collect rent, have the most money by the end of the game. Fair enough. Given the fact it’s a pretty straightforward game, one would assume the rules would reflect that.
Perhaps I’m spoiled with the simplicity of Scrabble, but when I picked up the rules of play I was a bit horrified by the short novel that awaited me. We all know the game itself is a several hour long commitment but be prepared to spend an additional 20-30 minutes of reading if you want to play “the right way”. Though I’m sure in comparison to more complicated games out there, that’s nothing.
At first, it’s kind of fun!
You start off with $1500 in cash, broken up into $500, $100, $50, $10, $5 and $1 dollar bills. Morale should be pretty high at this point, especially when you look at the seemingly low cost of the properties. Anything seems possible! Little did I know, I’d never have that much cash to play with again.
The first few rounds I found myself purchasing every property I landed on- a smart move, I thought. It was fun to watch the deeds add up, the rent coming in, plus you get $2oo when you pass go! Everything had potential to go in my favor. However, my opponents, of course, had similar same strategies- with which, came my sharp competitive drive and the beginning of the end.
Reality will set in
Let’s get this out there front and center- if you do not buy Broadway or Park Ave. – you will live to regret it. I had spent so much money on property that by the time I got around the board on my first lap, I couldn’t spare any more to make those purchases. I really wanted to avoid a mortgage so I passed, leaving it open for my fellow opponents. This was a fatal mistake.
The purchasing of properties goes pretty quickly, especially if you’re playing with multiple people. The next step is to add houses and hotels when you have all of one color. In most cases, the houses significantly increase the amount of rent you receive when a player lands there.
Unfortunately for me, I happened to own all the properties that brought in the least amount of money (with a few exceptions), even when developed. One of my opponents, however, decided they were going to build as many houses on Park and Broadway as was possible. This meant that landing on either of those spots was going to cost at least $1,100. Needless to say, one by one, whoever landed on those spots were forced with the ultimate decision: hand over all the cash, or take mortgages out on all the properties.
You can bet that I landed on one of those two ridiculous properties at least two different times. I was first forced to dish out nearly every dollar I had, and the second time around, almost every property was mortgaged. This meant that even when fellow opponents landed on my properties, I wasn’t allowed to collect rent. Great. So I’ve got no cash, no income and no method of paying off my mortgages. It quickly became a vicious cycle of despair and hopelessness.
Eventually, going to Jail was a good thing
Landing on a Chance or Community Chest space was always welcome, though there weren’t always benefits from it. Sometimes the doctor has to get paid, $100 gone! Other times you get to collect money for services, $25 in the pocket. But for me, it simply meant I didn’t owe anybody some insane amount of money for rent.
A pit in my stomach would pop up every time I came close to the right side of the board. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely relieved when I’d get the “Go directly to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200” card from Chance, or land on the GO TO JAIL spot on the board. Why? Because it meant I got to avoid Park & Broadway- the most expensive, bank busting spaces imaginable. For the latter half of the game, I didn’t have much cash to work with whatsoever, so if going to jail meant I potentially missed three turns and had to shell out $50 so be it. The downside of course, was I’d miss out on my $200 salary, and my savings weren’t exactly increasing by any means.
Everything must end
Sadly, the end of the game came for me after I landed on Part Street with 4 houses on it. I didn’t have the cash, and I had no properties left to mortgage. I had to declare bankruptcy. I tried bartering with opponents but nobody would budge. My hands were tied. It was all over. Not even Jail could save me.
Was the game fun? At first, definitely. But as it carried on, which was for several hours- by the way- I couldn’t help but get annoyed at how realistic everything felt. One phrase I use a lot these days is “One step forward, two steps back” and that’s exactly how it felt in this game. Because the majority of the game was spent with me in devastating debt, if you told me I played for 24 hours straight I would have believed you. It dragged on.
It’s hard enough as a young adult trying to get all your finances in order in real life, let alone in a game. Acquiring the nice house, reliable car, paying off school loans etc. takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. With the world the way it is today the cost of living is extremely high and it can get incredibly discouraging.
I don’t know about you, but for me, games are supposed to be fun and entertaining- a way to escape reality. Monopoly was precisely the opposite- inducing panic and frustration with every move because I felt as trapped in those rules as I do when I go to pay my bills every month.
In my opinion, Monopoly is either for kids who don’t know better yet or for the folks who have plenty of real money in their wallets who can enjoy trivial financial challenges. I think I’ll wait a little while before I give this game another shot.
1-4 Too Much Awful
5-7.5- Not So Awesome
7.6-8.5 Almost Awesome
8.6-9.4 – Awesome!
9.5-10- Too Much Awesome!
Games are supposed to be playful escapes from reality. The idea of the game is probably the most appealing part- but reality sets in and it's more likely you'll lose hard after investing (too) many hours trying to get out of unavoidable debt. For a young adult attempting to revisit a childhood classic, it's safe to say the familiar stress from everyday life violently seeped into this experience and ruined it.