The Monopoly Game


The Monopoly game board
Jeramey Jannene, via Flickr

Joshua Leo and Christy VanArragon look at one of the world's most popular games - Monopoly! It uses ideas of big business, and land ownership. But what was the original idea?

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Joshua Leo.

Voice 2

And I’m Christy VanArragon. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Park Place!

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Oxford Street!

Voice 1

Luxury Tax!

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Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

Voice 1

These are all parts of one of the world’s most famous games, Monopoly! Today’s Spotlight is on this game. Want to play?

Voice 2

Monopoly is a board game. The game has a flat paper playing board. Players move small game pieces around this board. The players roll dice, solid squares with six sides. Each side has a number. The numbers represent the spaces a player moves to go around the game board.

Voice 1

Each space on the board represents a different property. When a player lands on a property he may decide to buy the property or not to buy it. But the idea of the game is to own as much property as you can!

Voice 2

When another player lands on your property, that player must pay you money! It is like they are renting your property. There are many ways a player can make more and more money from his property.

Voice 1

The idea is to monopolize, or control, much of the playing board. The more property you own, the bigger your monopoly. When one player controls most of the property, then he will have the most money. In the end, the person with the biggest monopoly wins the game.

Voice 2

Monopoly was first sold in the United States in 1935. But it was invented a long time before that. In the 1900s a woman named Lizzie Magie created the first monopoly game. She called her game “The Landlords Game.” Lizzie gave the properties names like “Poverty Place”. She used her game as a teaching tool. The point was to teach people about the problem of rich, large land owners. Lizzie was a Christian. And she was particularly concerned about poor people.

Voice 1

Over the years the idea of Lizzie’s game spread. Other people began making their own versions of the game. And they gave the properties their own names, based on where they lived.

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The game was very popular among university economics students. They studied the economy. These students did not like the idea of big businesses replacing small businesses. They did not think this was democratic. They called these big businesses “monopolies.” They used the game to show the problems monopolies created.

Voice 1

In the 1930s, the game arrived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the United States. A young teacher gave the properties the names of Atlantic City streets. The streets had names of US states like Pennsylvania Avenue, Indiana Avenue, and New York Avenue. These names are the property names that many people play with today! The names remained popular because they included much of the nation.

Voice 2

But by the 1930s the point of the game hadcompletely changed. At this time, the United States was experiencing the Great Depression. The US economy was at its lowest. Many people were without jobs and without hope.

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At that time, a man named Charles Darrow enjoyed playing a version of Lizzie’s game. He liked it so much that he designed a beautiful playing board. He called his version, “Monopoly.” Charles took his Monopoly game to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers was the most well-known game company in the USA. Charles wanted them to help him sell his game.

Voice 2

The people at Parker Brothers rejected Charles’ game. But Charles did not lose hope. Instead, he created 5,000 copies of his game. He brought them to a local store. Within a short time, Charles sold all of his games! Then, Parker Brothers was interested. They bought the game from Charles. And the rest is history!

Voice 1

Parker Brothers began selling Monopoly. And they changed the point of the game. They used the game to bring glory to big businesses. When people play Monopoly today, they want to create monopolies. Then they win the game. Many people today may not understand the first meaning of the game.

Voice 2

Parker Brothers has sold over 275 million copies of Monopoly. It comes in more than 40 different languages. You can find the game in more than 100 different countries.

Voice 1

Over the years people have changed the playing board design along with the property names. But the rules remain the same. There is a London Monopoly board, a Thailand board, and an Indonesian board. There are superhero boards, sports team boards, and popular landmark boards. There is even a board representing my city, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Voice 2

Blind people have their own Monopoly playing board too. Their board uses Braille. These small raised points let blind people read the property names as they move around the board.

Voice 1

People love playing the game Monopoly. And they have played the game in some very strange places - like under water! Some people hold world records for playing Monopoly in these strange places.

Voice 2

For example, the longest game in a tree house was 286 hours. The longest game underground lasted 100 hours. The longest game played upside down was 36 hours. The longest game of Monopoly ever was 1680 hours. That is 70 days of Monopoly playing!

Voice 1

People have not always used Monopoly as just a game. During World War Two, Monopoly helped captured soldiers. These British and American soldiers were in prison camps in Germany. Aid groups brought them food, and mail. But sometimes they would also bring Monopoly games. The German soldiers trusted that the games were just games.

Voice 2

But hiding inside the games were maps, real money and other materials! Cloth maps easily fit between small spaces cut into the game box. And the money hid under the game money. Just imagine the surprise of the German soldiers when they discovered the truth. Monopoly was helping their prisoners escape!

Voice 1

Some people may think that Monopoly is just a fun game. And it is. But this game has its own special history that can teach us new things. It is important to remember that everything has a history. And history can give us special knowledge about ourselves, our culture, and even about the games we play.

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Rebekah Schipper. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Monopoly Game’.

Voice 1

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever played Monopoly? Is there a Monopoly board for your area?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
tank!
said on September 12, 2011

it is really development game which has such interesting history!!! when I was young I loved it! i remember how we sat for big round table and played in it for hours!!!

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egirl1989
said on September 12, 2011

What a pity I have never played this amazing game though it is one of the world’s most famous game and I used to be a university economic student:((...I will try it soon!

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nguyentruc
said on September 15, 2011

Amazing game!I used to play this game. But this is the first time I know this game is Monopoly. I don’t know it’s popular game in the world. My game had some points different but the basic game is the same too.
I will play it at night after the dinner! Interesting game!

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SylvioGreco
said on September 21, 2011

Here in Brazil I played this jogo when was young.

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imeka
said on August 31, 2012

Is is very similar to sash flow, I like games in this style :)

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georgino
said on October 19, 2012

I have never played monopoly game.I see that is interesting to play in according to this explanation. I hope to get one and to learn how to play.
It seems anti stress game. I want to play. Yeah..
Good topic to learn.

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on October 19, 2012

I like this game, it’s very good to understand how to invest the money and to take risks when you sell properties and also it teaches you to save money for hard situations. There are times when you have money and suddenly paying taxes, rent and others you can be poor and need to sell all the properties. It’s fun and give lessons of life .
Thanks for the history of this famous game .
Good bye my friends,

Augusto

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 23, 2016

I think that the Monopoly game is just for fun, not like Chess.
Yes, I played the simple Monopoly in yemen with our children and without money then in Egypt with some friends and without money else.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Toantmhbi
said on September 02, 2016

This game is lucky but very interested for player, particular for younger

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Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 10, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Saturday 10, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Rebekah Schipper, Christy VanArragon, Joshua leo, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
No, I have never.
No, there is not a Monopoly board for my area. Also, I do not know the Monopoly game.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil