Monopoly Socialism Game Stirs Controversy

Monopoly, the iconic 'fast-dealing property trading game' first published by Parker Brothers in [...]

monopoly socialism hasbro
(Photo: Hasbro)

Monopoly, the iconic "fast-dealing property trading game" first published by Parker Brothers in 1935, has had countless variations published over the years. Some are themed to popular culture, such as a Lord of the Rings edition or a Game of Thrones edition, while others are tailored to locations like the Atlantic City edition or sports. Still others have a more social theme like the Monopoly for Millennials released last year. But it's another variation of the game that's stirring up far more than friendly competition around the game board. Monopoly Socialism is stirring up quite a bit of controversy online.

Last week, Nick Kapur, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, took to Twitter to discuss the board game, declaring it to be "mean-spirited and woefully ill-informed" as it takes a satirical, mocking jab at the range of economic and social systems that generally fall under the socialism umbrella. You can check out the full thread in the tweet below.

The Monopoly Socialism, released by Hasbro who is the game's current owner, features players collecting a $50 living wage instead of the standard $200, tokens are out-of-date items such as a typewriter, old television, and a pocket watch among others while the game's description makes it pretty clear that it's supposed to be satire. You can check out the description below.

ADULT TWIST ON THE CLASSIC BOARD GAME: This adult board game is a hilarious adult twist on classic Monopoly gameplay WORK TOGETHER…OR NOT: This adult party edition of the Monopoly game has players moving around the board contributing to community projects…unless they can steal projects to get ahead WINNING IS FOR CAPITALISTS: Contribute to the Community Fund…unless you choose deplete it. Consider the best interest of the group…unless you want to forget that and just do what you need to do CHANCE CARDS: Working together might seem ideal, but Chance Cards can abruptly shake things up with things such as lousy neighbors, vegan meatloaf, and bad plumbing FUN ADULT PARTY GAME: Get ready for laughs as the twists and turns of life put a damper on working toward a shared, utopian society. Cooperation isn't always what it's cracked up to be In the Monopoly Socialism game players move around the board working together to make a better community by managing and contributing to projects such as a no-tip vegan restaurant, an all-winners school, or a museum of co-creation. But nobody said that cooperation is easy! Drawing a Chance card presents the flip side of striving for the perfect utopian society. You'll have issues with your neighbors, your DIY community projects go awry, you're constantly voting to shake things up, and there's always an emergency that requires dipping into the Community Fund! Contribute all 10 of your chips to win the game, unless the Community Fund runs out of money and everyone loses. So much for a socialist utopia.

Funny, right? Not according to Kapur. According to Kapur, the game doesn't accurately represent actual socialist ideals and, to him, seems to be simply trying to say that socialism is "bad".

"Obviously, there are critiques of socialism and people can say maybe the market is better at delivering certain types of services than the government," Kapur told CNN. "But this game didn't seem to be talking in those terms at all, it just seemed to be saying that 'Socialism is bad, it makes you poor, you gotta give your money away constantly.'"

While some may say that Kapur is missing the point -- that the Monopoly Socialism is intended to be an over-the-top bit of sarcasm -- his full thread on Twitter does make some interesting points, not the least of which is the fact that Monopoly itself began as a critique of capitalism. While Parker Brothers first sold the Monopoly, we know best back in 1935, the game was actually created by Elizabeth Magie in 1904. Named "The Landlord's Game", her version had players go around the board buying railroads and collecting money and paying rent with two sets of rules -- one for "monopolists" and one for "anti-monopolists". The point was to show how the two approaches led to different outcomes. While Magie did have a patent for her game, a man named Charles Darrow created a derivative of The Landlord's Game that Parker Brothers ultimately ended up acquiring and selling as the iconic game we know today.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.