What’s Monopoly®?

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Monopoly is a board game where players buy and develop properties, pay rent, and draw cards that affect their fortunes. It was originally created as an educational illustration of landlord abuse by Elizabeth Magie. Charles Darrow developed the Atlantic City version and patented it in 1935. The game has become immensely popular worldwide, with regional spin-offs and professional tournaments. The game’s origins have been a source of controversy.

Monopoly® is a board game produced by Parker Brothers, a game company currently owned by Hasbro. In the game, players use dice to move around a board, landing on a property that they have the option to buy and develop. If the land is already owned, players must pay rent to the landlord and developer of the property. The game also includes “Probability” and “Community Chest” slots associated with cards that can affect players’ fortunes, forcing them to move to various spaces on the board, requiring them to pay taxes or other fees, or awarding them money.

The history of the Monopoly® game is quite fascinating. The first version of the game was developed by Elizabeth Magie and was meant to be an educational illustration of the ways landlords abuse tenants with rents. The game’s version of her would be familiar to modern Monopoly® players, although of course there are some marked differences. Magie’s game spread quickly and was picked up by a number of people, slowly spreading across the United States until she landed in the family of a man named Charles Darrow.

Darrow clearly knew something potentially profitable when he saw it and developed the famous “Atlantic City” version of Monopoly®, with each square associated with a location in Atlantic City. He patented the game in 1935 and attempted to sell it to Parker Brothers. The company initially rejected Monopoly® as too difficult to play and too long, then changed its mind, which turned out to be a good decision, since approximately 750 million people played the game between 1935 and 2007.

Charles Darrow is often credited as the inventor of Monopoly®, although this is technically incorrect, and this has been a source of friction and controversy in the past. Some people argue that the game was clearly a popular game before Darrow got his hands on it, arguing that Parker Brothers essentially stole the rights to the game from its previous developers, making huge profits as a result. Others believe that Darrow’s refinements and additions to the game are what made it so popular and that he deserves credit for Monopoly®.

Either way, this two to eight player game has become immensely popular around the world, with numerous regional spin-offs and updated releases designed to reflect changes in the economy. Players fight each night for economic supremacy on a Monopoly® board in certain regions of the world, and the competition can get fierce. Game masters can even play in professional tournaments.

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