Thursday, 14 October 2010

Real-Life Monopoly

As part of my reworking of classic board games (See Strip Scrabble), I turn the pointless eye of reality to the much-loved gem, Monopoly. This game has saved lives in WW2, it's blighted lives (Notably my grandparents when I had an unhealthy obsession with the game in my youth, much like, I expect, every child concerned with fiscal planning. My motto was much like that of Barratt, build fast and leave desolate wastelands in the cheaper areas. Pro-tip: always get Mayfair and Park Lane. I don't care if you have to promise to give a relative a liver donation to deal with alcoholism from raising a child so emotionally involved in Monopoly. Just do it) and it's been a household name for generations (Hence the archaic pricing. £60 for Old Kent Road? If you can find property for £60 anywhere, chances are there's an army unit clearing it out).

Still, whilst reliving my youth, and begging people to play Monopoly with me, I felt that this unrealistic slant against the modern world was less reminiscent of a better time and more a delusion to first time buyers.

First off, you start with an income but minimal savings. You don't start life with £2000, you start with nothing. Your income is £200 a board-rotation (Cheerfully, I decided you earn more than this, but you obviously have to take some money away for living costs. Food, petrol, insurance, it's not cheap). Therefore, in order to buy your first house (Your board-person is still living with your parents, and if you're playing monopoly, chances are so are you) you need to get a crippling loan from "Royal Bank of Halifax Natwest Rock", at an almost punitive interest rate. Then you buy your first house! Yey! Except it's ten times the price it was in the original game, because it's a seller's market, the housing business. No-one can go without a house.

That's when the trouble starts. Living costs increase. Your income is now £180 a board rotation. And you've got to pay your mortgage from that. Interest per board rotation is 14%. You better wave goodbye to putting money in that savings account. This new house better be in Spain, because you have nothing for a rainy day.

Let's be honest, how often do you win a beauty contest (I've only ever won 6 in my entire life) or have an aunt unexpectedly bestow some wealth on you? Maybe you've won a crossword competition for £100? Since random wealth is so rare as to be unheard of, Community Chests and Chance cards are replaced by the new "Bad luck" cards. These list a financial expenditure which you weren't expecting. For example, your boiler breaks down, and you have to pay a man to replace it, or you're in a minor car crash and the insurance refuses to pay out, or you have to fight a law case to protect your intellectual property, because Strip Twister has taken off and you want a slice of the profits.

Instead of going to jail, there's "Debtor's Prison" (Archaic, but what the hell, I tuck my shirt into my trousers, I'm clearly from 1812 anyways) where you go if you land on the "Go to Jail" square (Renamed "Overdraft charges", and instead of the policeman, there's a picture of Fred Goodwin frowning, possibly holding out his hand. We'd see at the photo-shoot, which we would do for four pence, because he can't keep his grubby hands off money. The overdraft charges on my account are testament to this). you can get out by paying your debt, or rolling a double. After three goes you get out free (I didn't want to be too harsh with this element of the game, as chances are you have no savings to pay with).

Anyways, it's less board game, more gritty real-life drama. Done.

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