Board Games Revamped

JESSICA BADER: What do we think of this revamping of Monopoly?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/business/16monopoly.html

MATTHEW DAVID BROZIK: And what do we think of the fact that “competitive Monopoly player and coach” is something that somebody does? Don’t we need more teachers and doctors?

MOLLY SHOEMANN: I feel like I bring up the Panopticon every week.  It’s mostly because I remember precious little else from Freshman year philosophy except that concept.  But that tower in the middle, and the new board design? Come on!

Coming up next, a redesigned edition of shoots and ladders where the game plays itself for you while you watch TV, then comes over and tells you who won at the end.

MATTHEW DAVID BROZIK: “Shoots and Ladders” could be much, much more interesting than “Chutes and Ladders.” You know?

JEFF MORROW: They’d just end up doing away with the bamboo for a computerized bamboo-credit system.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: How about Hungry Hungry Hippos where a computer feeds the marbles to
the Hippos while you eat bagel bites in the other room?  I wanna play!

I guess a computer system is kind of teaching kids to have an abstract concept of money that is never fully realized and that leads them to figure that credit card debt is meaningless and that they should buy
houses they can’t really afford and play the stock market cavalierly.  So, this is probably actually a great teaching tool for the modern child.

AKIE BERMISS: Oh what a tragic turn for Monopoly!  I like some of the innovations, but I think, as usual, they’ve gone too far.  It’s such a nice meta way of explaining what’s happening in America.  This is an actual game about capitalism, money-management, ownership and the like and it’s being played in a society where those are supposedly our highest ideals (life, liberty, property — right?).  And yet it seems to have fallen off as a means of entertainment!  First of all, $50?  Is that what monopoly used to cost?  I mean: DAYUM!  I feel like it was like 12 dollars back in the day for the deluxe edition!

Secondly, just as I love books but think publishing houses and authors and such need to start converting to a more digital frame of mind, I think it’s about time for board game companies to make the switch.  When i was a kid in the 80s and 90s, video game systems were part of group of activities we used to engage in: watch some television, play some RISK, Magic The Gathering, Monopoly, CLUE — and then maybe we’d play video games.  But they were relatively new.

Now you’re looking at a digital world.  Board games may be nice, but they sort of take of space.  I have so many other things I can used to entertain myself.  My iPhone, alone, can stave off boredom for hours at a time.

Keep old Monopoly, yes.  But maybe it’s time to figure out a way for Monopoly to be more fun and interesting online, on an iPhone or iPad or computer?  Not just a digital rendering of the board, but a way to make it truly interactive.  With great graphics and the like.  Maybe making it some sort of RPG.  Attention spans are not necessarily shorter (though that is a concern) but also, sitting around waiting for someone to throw dice, count money, or consult a manual… I could read an entire SLATE article in that time.  But what if there were a way for me to be engaged while other were having their turn.

Make it more a sport.  I don’t want to just sit around.  I want to be involved. It sounds horrible to me, but I think there are better ways to make Monopoly work in the modern world than a talking tower in the middle of a game board.  That’d be like making a flatscreen TV with a VCR attached.

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