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monopoly-logoMonopoly a board game published by Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro. Players compete to acquire wealth through stylized economic activity involving the buying, renting, and trading of properties using play money, as players take turns moving around the board according to the roll of the dice. The object of the game is to own every piece of property and drive the other players into bankruptcy. The game is named after the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single entity.

Monopoly is the most commercially-successful board game in United States history, with 480 million players worldwide.[1]

According to Hasbro, since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 750 million people have played the game, making it “the most played (commercial) board game in the world.”[2] The 1999 Guinness Book of Records cited Hasbro’s previous statistic of 500 million people having played Monopoly.[3] Games Magazine has inducted Monopoly into its Hall of Fame

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The history of Monopoly can be traced back to the early 1900s. In 1904, a Quaker woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was supposed to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was commercially published a few years later. Other interested game players redeveloped the game and some made their own sets. Lizzie herself patented a revised edition of the game in 1904, and similar games were published commercially. By the early 1930s, a board game named Monopoly was created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its parent companies throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st. The Parker Brothers’ version was created by Charles Darrow. Several people, mostly in the U.S. Midwest and near the U.S. East Coast, contributed to the game’s design and evolution.

In 1941 the British Secret Service had John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War II prisoners of war held by the Nazis.[5] Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by the International Red Cross.

By the 1970s, the game’s early history had been lost (and at least one historian has argued that it was purposely suppressed – see below), and the idea that it had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore. This was stated in the 1974 book The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World’s Most Popular Game, by Maxine Brady, and even in the instructions of the game itself. As Professor Ralph Anspach fought Parker Brothers and its then parent company, General Mills, over the trademarks of the Monopoly board game, much of the early history of the game was “rediscovered.”

Because of the lengthy court process, and appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers’ trademarks on the game was not settled until the mid-1980s. The game’s name remains a registered trademark of Parker Brothers, as do its specific design elements. Parker Brothers’ current corporate parent, Hasbro, again acknowledges only the role of Charles Darrow in the creation of the game. Anspach published a book about his research, called The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle (and republished as Monopolygate), in which he makes his case about the purposeful suppression of the game’s early history and development

In order to put a cap on total development of property sets in the game, there are only 12 hotels and 32 houses. This limitation is in place to ensure that property sets cannot be developed unless there are houses or hotels available to purchase from the bank. This cap allows a certain amount of dominance to be developed by some players, because if every set of property were fully developed there would be enough rent collected between different players to allow the game to drag on for an extended period. This limitation on numbers of houses and hotels leads to an advantage for one player. Simply building each lot out to a maximum of 4 houses and then refusing to upgrade to hotels ensures that nearly the maximum amount of rent is collected for each property, and the monopolization of the houses from the game prevents opponents from developing their property. It is conceivable that a single player could end up owning all 32 houses near the end of the game, and the refusal to upgrade to hotels makes these houses unavailable for opponents to purchase for any property they may own.

Much of the skill comes from knowing how to make the best use of a player’s resources and above all knowing how to strike a good bargain. Monopoly is a social game where players often interact and must deal with each other in ways similar to real world real estate bargaining. Note that the best deal is not always for the most expensive property; it is often situational, dependent on money resources available to each player and even where players happen to be situated on the board. When looking to deal, a player should attempt to bargain with another player who not only possess properties he or she needs but also properties the other player needs. In fact, offering relatively fair deals to other players can end up helping the player making the offer by giving him or her a reputation as an honest trader, which can make players less wary of dealings in the future. What is more, most people play Monopoly with the same group repeatedly. For this reason, such a reputation can have effects far beyond the game being played

 

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