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Monopoly is one of the world’s best-selling games with spin-off versions for every new fad or popular franchise and now, in this digital age, opportunities to play a speeded-up edition on one’s phone too. Monopoly reminds me of rainy days and arguments and when you stop to really think about it, you realise what an incredibly selfish game it is. In short, the objective is to make loads of money for yourself while at the same time making everyone else poor. Hardly a great message to promote, especially during Harvest week when we think about the things that we have and how we can share with others.

 

In actual fact, Monopoly was originally called The Landlord’s Game and its inventor, in 1903, Elizabeth Magie, wanted the game to teach people how to survive in the jungle of city life. In her game, players could earn money by taking on tasks outlined on the board and were given advice about how to manage money and taxes, so as to avoid being sent to jail because of bad debts. In her game, by solving problems on the game board, players learned life skills. There were opportunities to share the wealth with less successful players and, in a way, nobody lost.

 

I suppose Parker Brothers decided that wasn’t the most exciting game and changed the principles to what we now know. And I guess that in 1935, when it was launched, this chimed with Americans coming out of the Depression. There is nothing wrong with wanting to create a comfortable lifestyle by working hard. In fact striving to do well is something we encourage.

 

Financial security gives us the freedom to direct our energies and interests into other areas of life. What counts is how absorbed in ourselves we become. If all our energy is directed towards getting richer then what effect does such a narrow focus have on us and those around us? If we don’t ever share what we have, how can we expect others to like and respect us? And will they share with us when we need them to?

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