My Favourite Board Games

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Books About Monopoly: Part One

When I first played Monopoly, I did it in my first language: Spanish. I don't remember the names of the properties, but I do remember the thrill I experienced by this complex game.

I don't think I followed the rules for a long time up to my adulthood. I played with no method, and no knowledge whatsoever about the official rules.

That all changed when I started playing Monopoly more seriously (not so seriously, but just more interested in the "proper" way of playing this ingeneous game).

In my endeavour to know everthing there is to know about Monopoly, I found different books on the subject. I want to share with you the books on Monopoly I'm aware of. Do let me know if I miss any other book I am not aware of.

We could start with the official Monopoly Companion, by Phil Orbanes. I met Phil online a couple of years ago. Having read his book, I recognised his name, and got a bit of an insigth into the rules of Monopoly.

Phil is a game developer himself, and worked as the Vice President of the Research and Development Department for Parker Brothers. He has also been a Monopoly Tournament Judge. He knows his rules, and he wrote his book as if he was interviewing Uncle Pennybags (Mr Monopoly), getting his information from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

The book also touches briefly on the subject of the history of Monopoly, also know as "who invented Monopoly?". However, that section is very brief and, as you will see in one of my future postings, there is a long, convoluted and very interesting story behind the most famous board game in the world.

Here is a link to the book:

A book that discusses the history of Monopoly in more detail is "The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle" by Ralph Anspach.

Anspach's book is compelling and interesting. Long story short: Anspach, an Economics Professor, devised a game called "Bust the Trust", which discussed how monopoly works, and made references to the anti-trust (anticompetitive conduct) laws in the US. However, he decided to change the name of his game to "Anti-Monopoly".

Parker Brothers, ever protective of their intellectual property, became aware of Anti-Monopoly, and tried to prevent - through legal means - Anspach from publishing the game carrying the M word.

Anspach consulted a lawyer, and decided to fight the giant. In the process of defending the action, he came uncovered many facts the public was not aware of, such as the real story behind the creation of Monopoly, and how the person Parker Brothers always attributed the invetion to (Charles Darrow), was not the real inventor, and how they kept this information quiet for many years to come. Anspach implied that Parker Brothers had covered up this fact to protect their Monopoly cash cow. He suggests Parker Brothers played foul.

I'll talk about that later on, but you can have a look at the book here:

Of course, no matter how thin you slice the truth, in the end, there is always 2 sides to it. And the history of Monopoly is no exception.

I briefly discussed Anspach's book with Phil Orbanes, and he told me the other side of the story, dismissing any foul play by Parker Brothers. At first, I did not know what side of the story to believe. That was until I had the opportunity to read "Game Makers" by Phil Orbanes.

Whilst Game Makers is not a book about Monopoly, I include it in this discussion because it touches upon the origins of Parker Brothers as a game making company, and eventually it touches upon the windfall that Monopoly represented for Parker Brothers at a time when their finances were not up to scratch.

Game Makers also gives you a "feel" for the personalities involved in the life of Parker Brothers as a company. That helped me form an idea as to how the truth may have been unintentionally "hidden".

At the end of the day, I'll leave it up to you to make up your mind as to who you believe. I have my own opinion, but I'll tell it to you later on. Meanwhile, you can check out the Game Makers book and arrive to your own conclusions.

I'll continue my discussion about Monopoly books in my next posting. Till then, "own it all!" and have fun!


Post a Comment

<< Home

This Blog is Listed with Blogarama!