Monday, November 1, 2021

The Landlord/Monopoly Game

On Twitter last week, Ethan Mollick, Professor of Management at the Wharton Business School, gave us a great reminder that the game of Monopoly was, ironically, ripped off from a prior game with partly similar mechanics and a totally different intent:

Of course, I share this as a reminder of our continuing reflection that games are not just about fun. The example here of Elizabeth Magie's "Landlord's Game" shows just one of the many other design goals that might be in sight -- and in fact, when the game was adjusted to strip out those other elements, we're really left with a degenerate, lesser form.

Now, I assume here when Mollick says that the game "has bad rules by design", that's shorthand for "rules that intentionally inflict pressure or pain on the players", so as to teach some kind of lesson.

What rules are in play in your personal game design that intentionally inflict pain on the players? And what lessons are being taught with those mechanics?

See the current publication of the original Landlord's Game here.

15 comments:

  1. What about character death in D&D?
    I'm not casting any judgement on the matter, but you have to wonder if that would qualify as bad rules by design.

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    1. I guess maybe now yes? Funny how this things evolve over time.

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  2. I bet Delta doesn't lose much sleep wondering about that.

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  3. "The world’s most original board game". That website looks like either a scam, or something amateurish by ans for people who think the only boardgames in existence are Monopoly, Risk, Ludo, Checkers, Chess, and Cluedo.

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    1. ...aaand in fact "the world's most original board game" is rated 5.5/10 on BGG:

      https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/29316/landlords-game

      🙄

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  4. Looks like he's not the only one revisiting Monopoly:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jacobin/class-war-the-jacobin-board-game

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  5. Wow. I did not know of the origins of monopoly. Beyond the age of 12 when I started to learn more about the real world, it did seem very unfair that luck determined whether you were rich or bankrupt.

    it makes more sense now.

    What does RISK teach us?

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    1. Right? I have a feeling that RISK might teach us that North America is the place most likely to launch a world-spanning empire. (Although I know some would argue for Australia.)

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  6. Looking at OED thief, do you consider chain to be light armor?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I'd call chain medium armor (in line with the light/heavy/armored foot descriptors).

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  7. There's also the interesting case of "Anti-Monopoly", designed by an economics professor that apparently didn't think the prevailing game was teaching its lessons very well:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Monopoly

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