Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monopoly's Origins as an Anti-Capitalist Game

There's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about a trademark battle over the creation of an "Anti-Monopoly" game and the famous real estate game's surprising origins.

I will touch on the subject of the original “Landlord’s Game” in Broke is Beautiful. Patented by Elizabeth Magie of Maryland, it was designed to satirize capitalism and discourage property speculation. Along with familiar spaces like banks, railroads, utilities and jail there was a public park and a “Mother Earth” at one of the corners.

The change in Monopoly's theme was part of a larger shift in the objectives of board games from teaching moral and ethical values to awarding the most financially successful.

The tale of Professor Ralph Anspach's decades long trademark battle with Parker Brothers over his parody game makes for riveting reading.