July 26, 2006

Nothing says “Monopoly” like a debit card

Posted in Games, News at 2:32 pm by Calico Jack

In their latest edition of Monopoly, Parker Brothers has decided to drastically change the way their classic game is played. Instead of using the traditional brightly-colored bills, players will now be given a mock Visa debit card to keep track of their bank balances. No longer will the banker be required to count out everyone’s savings before the game starts; now he can simply swipe everyone’s card through the plastic reader to adjust their earnings and payments. According to spokesman Chris Weatherhead, “The new electronic Monopoly reflects the changing nature of society and the advancement of technology.”

I’ll be the first to say that Monopoly isn’t my favorite board game to play. It’s a decent party game when you have eight people at your house and no one is up for strip poker, but the game takes forever and you can usually tell who’s going to win after five or six turns. Having said that, however, I think this new cashless version is going to strip (no pun intended) whatever fun can be had playing this game. For example:

  • How are you supposed to be able to put all of the players’ taxes in the middle for Free Parking? That’s definitely the most common house rule, but without any cash Free Parking becomes a dead space.
  • You can no longer team up with another player to take over the board by combining properties and assets. The whole point of teamwork (apart from being really fun) is to make it harder to go bankrupt. But if you can’t combine the balances on your debit card, it sort of defeats the purpose of being a team. I suppose you could just use the second card once the first one expires, but you’ll have a much harder time convincing the rest of the players that you are teammates. With cash, you can’t separate your incomes once you make a big pile of money on the table.
  • Speaking of these debit cards, how will players be able to keep track of their balances unless they use sheets of paper? With cash, it was always very easy to quickly glance at your pile and estimate your assets. But won’t it be an annoyance to make the banker swipe the card every time you want a balance?
  • And finally, how are you supposed to be able to cheat? Everyone knows that if you can grab a few extra $500s before the game starts, it’s much harder to go bankrupt. I’m joking…but this will also eliminate under-the-table deals that are so much a part of the spirit of Monopoly.

Using cash also teaches kids how to count and make change. And Monopoly is such a classic game that it doesn’t need to be modernized or updated. Stick with our Monopoly money (even the annoying $5 and $1). Thankfully, this new electronic version won’t replace the original; you’ll always be able to find the regular one. But I have a feeling that we won’t be seeing the Visa edition for long.


1 Comment »

  1. Jessie said,

    I’m not a huge monoply fan, either. In fact, I hate any game that may take longer then 45 minutes to play and that I always lose. But I want to know what make Parker Brothers think that this new version is going to be so much more fun. Half the fun in monopoly is feeling all that money in your grubby little paws! Even though I don’t play, I’ll stick with the old one, thanks.

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