- This article is about the board game. For the game show based on this game, see Monopoly (game show). For the economic concept, see Monopoly.
Monopoly is one of the best-selling commercial board games in the world. As the name suggests, the conditions for winning are based on the acquisition of wealth through a stylised version of economic activity involving the purchase, rental and trading of real estate using play money, as players take turns moving around the board based on the roll of the dice. The game is named after the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single seller.
Since the invention of the original version in 1904, it is estimated that more than 500 million people have played the game, making it the most played board game in the world .
Monopoly was first marketed on a broad scale by Parker Brothers on November 5, 1935 with international licensing rights given to Waddington Games of the United Kingdom (both of which are now part of Hasbro). Waddington's version (with locations from London) was first produced in 1936.
Although Monopoly is frequently said to have been invented by Charles Darrow in 1935, its origins actually go back to 1904, when the Georgist Lizzie Magie (that is, a supporter of political economist Henry George), patented a game called "The Landlord's Game" with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people can find it hard to understand why this happens and what might be done about it and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.
This original game was enjoyable but although patented it was not taken up by a manufacturer until 1910 when it was published in the US by the Economic Game Company of New York. In the UK it was published in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company of London under the title Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit. Despite the title change, it was recognizably the same game.
Apart from commercial distribution, it spread by word of mouth and was played in slightly variant home-made versions over the years by Quakers, Georgists, university students and others who became aware of it. As it spread, its rules were changed, most notably in dropping the second phase of the game during which a Land tax was introduced to replace the other taxes, and the shortened game became known as "Auction Monopoly". It was often localized; the original fanciful property names being replaced by street names from the cities where the players lived. By the late 1920s it was known as just plain "Monopoly" and was played very much as it is now. One version of the game, commonly played in the Philadelphia area, had Atlantic City street names; this game was taught to Charles Darrow, who then sold it as his personal invention to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers subsequently decided to pay off Magie, and others who had copyrighted commercial variants of the game, in order to have legitimate, undisputed rights to the game, and promoted Darrow as its sole inventor. Decades later, when they attempted to suppress publication of a game called Anti-Monopoly, designed by Ralph Ansbach, the trademark suit went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1983, and the court found in favor of Ansbach because Darrow did not actually invent the game.
The original Monopoly game was localized for the cities or areas in which it was played and Parker Brothers has continued this practice. Their version of Monopoly has been produced for international markets, with the place names being localized for cities including London and Paris, and for countries including the Netherlands and Germany, among others.
In recent years, different manufacturers of the game have created dozens of versions in which the names of the properties and other elements of the game are replaced by others with some theme. There are versions about national parks, Star Trek, Star Wars, Disney, various particular cities (such as Las Vegas) and villages (such as "Calumetopoly" for Calumet, Michigan), states, NASCAR, and many others.
In July of 2000, in a major marketing effort, Hasbro renamed the mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags to "Mr. Monopoly", felt by some to be a more bland name.
Atlantic City version
This is the original version produced by Parker Brothers. The board consists of 40 squares, containing 28 properties, 3 "Chance" squares, 3 "Community Chest" squares, a "Luxury Tax" square, an "Income Tax" square, "GO", "Jail", "Free Parking", and "Go to Jail". In the US version shown below, the properties are named after locations in Atlantic City, NJ.
Standard (American Edition) Monopoly game board layout
||Mediterranean Avenue ($60)
||Baltic Avenue ($60)
||Income Tax (Pay 10% or $200)
Reading Railroad ($200)
||Oriental Avenue ($100)
||Vermont Avenue ($100)
||Connecticut Avenue ($120)
||St. Charles Place ($140)
|Luxury Tax (Pay $75)
||Electric Company ($150)
|Park Place ($350)
||States Avenue ($140)
||Virginia Avenue ($160)
|Short Line ($200)
Pennsylvania Railroad ($200)
|Pennsylvania Avenue ($320)
||St. James Place ($180)
|North Carolina Avenue ($300)
||Tennessee Avenue ($180)
|Pacific Avenue ($300)
||New York Avenue ($200)
|Go To Jail
||Water Works ($150)
B&O Railroad ($200)
|Marvin Gardens ($280)
||Ventnor Avenue ($260)
||Atlantic Avenue ($260)
||Illinois Avenue ($240)
||Indiana Avenue ($220)
||Kentucky Avenue ($220)
Note that Marvin Gardens on the above board is actually a misspelling of the original street name, Marven Gardens. The misspelling was originally introduced by Charles Todd, whose home-made Monopoly board was copied by Charles Darrow and subsequently used as the basis of their design by Parker Brothers. They have never corrected the error. Short Line was not a real railroad but a bus line that had a depot in Atlantic City, and Atlantic City does not have a Water Works -- its water is piped in from the New Jersey "mainland" through two pipes.
The other versions of the game have different property names, and the prices may be denominated in another currency, but the game mechanics are almost identical. (The income tax choice from the US version is replaced by a flat rate in the UK version, and the $75 Luxury Tax square is replaced with the £100 Super Tax square.)
In the 1930s, John Waddington Ltd. was a firm of printers from Leeds that had begun to branch out into packaging and the production of playing cards. Waddingtons had sent the card game Lexicon to Parker Brothers hoping to interest them in publishing the game in the United States. In a similar fashion Parker Brothers sent over a copy of Monopoly to Waddingtons early in 1935 before the game had been put into production in the United States.
The managing director of Waddingtons, Victor Watson, gave the game to his son Norman (who was head of the card games division) to test over the weekend. Norman was impressed by the game and persuaded his father to call Parker Brothers on Monday morning. This call resulted in Waddingtons obtaining a license to produce and market the game outside of the United States. Watson felt that in order for the game to be a success in Britain the American locations would have to be replaced, so Victor and his secretary, Marjory Phillips, went to London to scout out locations. The Angel Islington is not a street in London but an area of North London named after a coaching inn that stood on the Great North Road. By the 1930s the inn had become a Lyons Corner House (it is now a Co-operative Bank). Some accounts say that Marjory and Victor met at the Angel to discuss the selection and celebrated the fact by including it on the Monopoly board. In 2003, a plaque commemorating the naming, was unveiled at the site by Victor Watson's grandson who is also named Victor.
The standard British board, produced by Waddingtons, was for many years the version most familiar to people in countries in the Commonwealth (except Canada) and many other nations and is shown below.
For a list of some of the localized versions and the names of their properties, see localized versions of the Monopoly game.
Each player is represented by a small pewter token which moves around the edge of the board according to the roll of two dice. The ten playing pieces currently used in the classic edition are as follows: a top hat, an iron, a Scottie dog, a battleship, a car, a wheelbarrow, a thimble, a cannon, a horse and rider, and an old boot.
Originally, the battleship and cannon were from a Parker Brothers war-based game that failed on the market; the premade pieces were recycled into Monopoly usage.
In 1999, a token representing a bag of money was added following an online vote. The other two options were a biplane and a piggy bank. Unlike the tokens introduced in special editions, this token was added to the base set.
Also included in the standard edition are:
- A pair of six-sided dice.
- A deed for each property. A deed is given to a player to signify ownership, and specifies purchase price, mortgage value, the cost of building houses and hotels on that property, and the various rents depending on how developed the property is. Properties include:
- 22 streets, divided into 8 color groups of two or three streets. A player must own all of a color group (have a monopoly) in order to build houses or hotels.
- 4 railways. Players collect higher rent if they own more than one railway. Hotels and houses cannot be built on railways.
- 2 utilities. Players collect higher rent if they own both utilities. Hotels and houses cannot be built on utilities.
- A supply of paper 'money'. The supply of money is theoretically unlimited; if the bank runs out of money the players must make do with other markers.
- Thirty-two wooden or plastic houses and twelve wooden or plastic hotels. (the original and some 'deluxe' editions have wooden houses and hotels, the current 'base set' uses plastic buildings) Unlike money, houses and hotels have a finite supply. If no more are available, no substitute is allowed.
- A deck of "Chance" cards and a deck of "Community Chest" cards. Players draw these cards when they land on the corresponding squares of the track, and follow the instructions printed on them.
Hasbro also sells a deluxe edition, which is mostly identical to the classic edition but has wooden houses and hotels and gold-toned tokens, including two additional tokens: a railroad locomotive and a moneybag. F.A.O. Schwarz in New York City sells a custom version called "One-of-a-kind Monopoly" for $100,000US. This special edition comes in a locking attaché case made with Napolino leather and lined in suede, and upgrades include:
- 18-carat gold tokens, houses and hotels
- Rosewood board
- street names written in gold leaf
- emeralds around the Chance icon
- sapphires around the Community Chest
- rubies in the brake lights of the car on the Free Parking Space
- the money is real, negotiable, United States currency
Two to ten people may play Monopoly, but the game dynamics are ideal with six players. With more than six players, it is too likely that an individual will not have the opportunity to purchase significant property, and be bankrupted without ever having been in contention. With four or fewer players, there are not as many possible combinations of property ownership, and the importance of astute trading and negotiation is diminished.
Each player begins the game with $1500 (or £1500, or €1500, etc.) in cash and his token on the Go square. All property deeds, houses, and hotels are held by the bank until purchased by the players.
Players take turns in order, as determined by chance prior to the game. A player's turn consists of rolling two dice and advancing on the board the corresponding number of squares clockwise around the track. Depending where he lands, he takes any of a number of actions. For details, see Official rules of Monopoly.
Many casual Monopoly players are surprised and disappointed to discover that some of the rules they are used to are not part of the official rules. Yet, although many popular variations to the rules seem intuitively reasonable, most of them weaken the game dynamics in one way or another. For details, see House rules of Monopoly.
Monopoly involves a substantial portion of luck, with the roll of the dice determining whether a player gets to own key properties or lands on squares with high rents. Even the initial misfortune of going last is a significant disadvantage, because one is more likely to land on property which has already been purchased, and therefore be forced to pay rent instead of having an opportunity to buy unowned property. There are, however, many strategic decisions which allow skilled players to win more often than the unskilled. For details, see Monopoly strategy.
Numerous official and unofficial add-ons have been made for Monopoly, both before its commercialization and after. The best-known expansion to the game is the Stock Exchange Add-On, published by Parker Brothers in 1936. A remake of the Stock Exchange add-on was published in 1992 by Chessex, incorporating the 1936 expansion and further expanding the game.
In the Stock Exchange add-on, the Free Parking space is changed to the Stock Exchange. The add-on also contained three each of Chance and Community Chest cards directing the player to advance to the Stock Exchange. The 1992 add-on also included seven other Chance cards and eight Community Chest cards (to play with the 1992 add-on, one Community Chest card - "From sale of stock you get $45", is removed). The add-on also included thirty stock certificates, five for each of the six different stocks, differing only in its purchase price, ranging from $100 to $150. Shares, like properties, can be considered to be tradeable material, and could also be mortaged for half their purchase price.
When a player moves onto Free Parking, stock dividends are paid out to all players with any unmortgaged shares. The amount to be paid out to each player is determined based on the number and kind of shares owned. Specifically, a player receives dividends from each stock based on the following mathematical formula:
- (purchase price of share / 10) × (number of shares owned)2
The player who lands on Free Parking can also choose to buy a share if any remain - should the player decline, the Bank auctions a share off to the highest bidder. The 1936 rules are ambiguous with regards to the stock that is put up for auction, and convention has it that the winner of the auction chooses the stock to be received.
The Stock Exchange add-on serves to inject more money into the game, in a similar manner to railroad properties, as well as changing the relative values of properties. In particular, the Yellow and Green properties are more valuable due to the increased chance of landing on Free Parking, at the expense of the Light Purple and Orange groups.
Parker Brothers has also sold several games which are spinoffs of Monopoly. These are not add-ons as they don't function as an addition to the Monopoly game, but are simply additional games in the flavor of Monopoly.
Advance to Boardwalk board game
- Free Parking card game
- "Monopoly Junior" board game, a simplified version for young children
- Water Works card game
- Don't Go To Jail The MONOPOLY Dice Game
A short-lived televison game show, Monopoly, ran for twelve weeks in 1990 before being cancelled.
Themed Monopoly games
Over the years, several Monopoly versions have been released being based on a famous cultural icon, including:
There are also numerous Monopoly versions featuring locations of other cities and countries, including San Francisco, CA, Canada, and several European countries, but these versions are rare outside their intended location.
Because Monopoly evolved in the public domain before its commercialization, Monopoly has seen many imitation games. Most of these are exact copies of the Monopoly games with the street names replaced with locales from a particular town, university, or fictional place. Some notable imitations include:
Anti-Monopoly was written by Ralph Anspach in 1974.
Solarquest, a popular space-age adaptation, was released by Golden in 1986.
Ghettopoly, released in 2003, caused considerable offense upon its release. The game, intended to be a humorous rendering of ghetto life, was decried as racist for its unflinching use of racial stereotypes.
- Kalliopoly , a Finnish version of the game, playing in the streets in the Helsinki district Kallio .
- The Mad Magazine Game , a Mad Magazine themed board game in which the object of the game is to lose all your money, play is counter-clockwise, and the dice must be rolled with the left hand. Released by Parker Brothers in 1979.
Atlantik is a Monopoly-based computer game for KDE, again, with street named changed, it maintains the same set of rules for Monopoly while adding multiplayer support across LAN or the internet.
McDonald's Monopoly is a sweepstakes run by the fast-food chain with a theme based on the board game.
- A common dismissive comment about a currency is to refer to it as "Monopoly money", especially if differs substantialy, for instance being more colourful (for instance United States residents referring to Canadian money) or of a lower value (for instance the British refering to the Euro).
- Monopoly as a Markov Process, by R. Ash and R. Bishop, Mathematics Magazine , vol. 45 (1972) p. 26-29.
Do Not Pass Go, by Tim Moore. ISBN 0099433869
US02026082-- Monopoly -- C. B. Darrow -- Dec. 31. 1935