Filed Under: History and future, Money

Monday Museum: Monopoly money

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[Dave Birch] We thought it would be fun to loot the archives of our blogs to see how the world of transactions has developed. So here is another in our “Monday Museum” series, from 25th July 2006.

[Dave Birch] I suppose it had to happen. A new version of Monopoly has been released by Hasbro. Instead of paper money: electronic “debit” cards. Interestingly, newspapers are as bad at reporting on play e-money as they are on real e-money: one article says that the game comes with a “little machine that transfers money from one player’s bank card to another.” I wondered what had happened to these.

Here’s an excerpt from a review of the game: “What would Monopoly be like if it were invented today…? The world has changed amazingly over the last 70 years. This special anniversary edition celebrates 70 years of the world’s most popular board game with a modern day equivalent to the traditional game. Choose from a range of new movers including a mobile phone, roller blade or even a cheeseburger! The rent has skyrocketed sky high in a much more recognisable London. You can build property in Covent Garden, visit the London Eye or make millions in The City! Wheel and deal in the fast lane – millions of pounds, not just hundreds! This Electronic Special Edition features an Electronic Banker Unit and “Debit” Cards that replace the money. Just swipe and you’re away! “

I found some more on this via Joseph (a.k.a. “The Winner”, see below) at Techdirt. Although they’ve gone over to cards, apparently you’ll still be able to download PDFs of the money and print it out. I wonder if the European Central bank will go the way via SEPA and PCF…

Well, in the interests of research I got a copy of the UK Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition and turned to an enthusiastic Monopoly player for a more detailed evaluation.

[Aaron Birch, aged 9] I think that apart from being a good game, it actually teaches little children banking so that when they get older they’ll understand it. It really imitates the 21st century but on a board game. The idea of using credit cards is much more creative than using paper money because you never run out of money, you could go up to 500 million if you wanted to on electronic Monopoly whereas there’s a limit to the money you have in old-fashioned Monopoly. The Community Chest and Chance cards are really modern when some say ‘Your internet company has succeeded, collect 2 million’ which is a modern-day experience. The counters are also modern because there’s one roller blade, one skateboard, one burger, one airplane, one race car and one mobile phone, which are modern-day items. It raises the Monopoly level to a whole new standard because more people would buy the game when they know how much more fun banking is with an electronic device and having a modern-day item as a counter.

[Dave again] So that was two thumbs up from Aaron. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered something else about the game. The “bank” is recognising the player’s cards not by chips, contactless or even magnetic stripes but by detecting embossed dots. Therefore, I figured, any card with some embossing in that area might be recognised. It would be more fun to play with real cards, so I tried a few. Here are the results so far (note that many of the cards I tried weren’t recognised at all so I’m only listing the ones that worked) and I’ll update it if I find some more.

Player 1: First Direct debit card, Nectar loyalty card
Player 2:
Player 3:
Player 4: Prepaid US MasterCard
Player 5:
Player 6:

I just read about another new version of this wonderful game, the Monopoly Empire edition, which garnered comment because it was thought to be eliminating the “go to jail” (to keep it more closely aligned to 21st-century mortgage markets, presumably), so it looks as if one of the world’s favourite games is set to continue for another generation. On my bookshelf is the excellent “Monopoly: The world’s most famous game and how it got that way” which reminds that it was originally intended as a critique of capitalism. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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