When I was 8 or 9, my older sister would often sit me down for a game of Monopoly.
Within an hour, without fail, I’d be beaten. Bank account empty. Assets seized. Not even a Water Works (unless you count the tears of angry shame).
But the game didn’t stop there. Oh no. Not content with having all of the money and property in the game, Joanne would keep going, forcing me to scribble out ‘IOU’ notes from a separate pad of paper every time I landed on one of her hotels.
There we’d sit for hours, me being plunged into a black hole I had no hope of recovering from, her tearing into me like a hungry jackal, obscene wealth piling up beside her.
It was a humiliating, miserable experience.
It was also a vital lesson in realities of adult life, and the reason why the decision to create a new ‘half-hour’ version of Monopoly to appeal to modern children and their 140 character attention spans is both an utter disgrace and – bear with me here – wrecklessly irresponsible.
‘Monopoly Empire’, the newly unveiled shortened version, is, according to makers Hasbro, a reaction to parents and children who want a ‘quick in-and-out, frictionless gaming experience’, which sounds rather like a euphemism for a cheeky shag before work.
Well tough. Monopoly isn’t a quickie. It’s a long, drawn out, pleasureless disaster, and it’s important it stays that way.
The game’s geniusis that it brings out the capitalist in everyone, or, to put it another way, turns us into utter b******s. In its throes, as we gleefully present the bill for an extortionate night in Mayfair, or best of all, force a paltry tenner out of everyone for a fake birthday, we cease to be friends and loved ones and become mirror images of life’s biggest, coldest bastards: banks, tax men, the global corporations sucking the world dry.
Much is made of the fate that awaits today’s youngsters. Like us, they’re being told they can have everything they want, and growing up with the expectation that they will. But unlike us, they’re going to discover there’s no money left, because we blew it all. Sorry kids! Personal debt, renting forever, never saving a penny – these are both our legacies and our examples. Good luck!
The least we can do to prepare them for a life of fiscal grind is surely, therefore, to preserve the sacred experience of Monopoly, the rite-of-passage that is sitting glumly by the corner of a board as people you thought loved you chip away at your wealth and pride, rolling your dreams into dust.
Because whether you end up struggling on benefits or rich enough to see half your earnings taxed, that’s what life is, a constant dalliance with The Man in his many guises, always after the same thing: your wallet. What better preparation is there for that than a grueling, hopeless, three hour game of Monopoly?
Sparing kids of all that shame and boredom might feel kind, and probably makes commercial sense for Hasbro. But all it’ll really do is leave the next generation even less prepared for the shitty world we’ve created for them. So stand with me Britain, stand with the Parker Brothers, and play Monopoly properly.
I’m the dog though. I’m always the dog. Seriously – I’m not playing if I’m not the dog.