The Better (Canadian) Monopoly

We all know what Monopoly is. It’s that game that has a million different versions. It’s that game that you can play for weeks or months. It’s that game that ends friendships. But do you know the story of how Monopoly even came to be in the first place?

Originally it was called “The Landlord’s Game,” and it was actually made to be a warning about the dangers of monopolies. Elizabeth Magie made the game as a way to show that if one person owns everything, it’s only good for that one person, and all the tenants wind up suffering, whereas having many different businesses all running, and owned by different people, encourages economic growth, and allows everyone to participate in the economy because prices stay competitive instead of just skyrocketing.

Of course, Parker Brothers wanted to make it more competitive, so they just took the version where you try to become the person with all the wealth, and they published that and made bank. The current version of the game goes completely against the original design of the game, and if you’ve ever played, you know that you can wind up dreading going through massive sections of the board, and it gets to a point where getting sent to jail is a good thing because that’s three more turns that you’re not going bankrupt.

And now we take a look at Poleconomy, which fits a lot better with the original design of the game. You still win by having the most money, but you’re encouraged to help other players in a ton of different ways. Technically the game isn’t strictly Canadian, but there is a Canadian version, and that’s the one I played as a kid. It’s much deeper, it’s got several options, you’re not stuck always going to the same places in the same order, there’s no bankruptcy, and there’s elections for the players to be prime minister, to decide whether rent prices should go up or down. As it’s name implies, it’s a game about the economy just as much as it’s about politics.

The game of Monopoly sends a pretty backwards message about economics, where in the game you’re supposed to just own everything, and take as much money as possible for yourself, when in reality, and in Poleconomy, it’s much more effective to help your fellow players too. I haven’t played the game in years myself, but I’ve always hated games that feel like they’re just dictated by the roll of a few dice, and the players have no say in anything. This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been wanting for a while.