Like an historic museum specimen preserved in resin, old-school board game MONOPOLY some how still clings to life in the mega-pixel NPX (Nintendo – Playstation – Xbox) era.
I haven’t played it in close to forty years, and with my own daughter turning 10 next year, the window of opportunity for me to do so is fast closing.
Yet there now exists a reason that might well lure me back to the land of cheating bankers, paper money and pushing a grey plastic token (the shoe and the wheelbarrow were always my two faves) around a virtual properties gameboard.
Recently my favorite (yet perennially struggling) football team released their own branded version of the game. Fans who purchase a copy at least have some chance of winning when they play. That’s more than can be said for the St George/Illawara Dragons – the team that’s inspired this latest version.
The Dragons may have at one time owned the world record for achieving the most consecutive number of professional football premierships in a row (11 from 1956 -1966) but that, as history buffs would say, was a long time ago.
If poorly performing football teams aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other specific-interest incarnations of monopoly going around nowadays –
The three biggest innovations to emerge from the Monopoly Universe in recent times have been the ‘Cheater’s Edition’ –
The ‘Speed Die’ version –
And the cashless MONOPOLY VOICE BANKING edition –
Oops! Did I say THREE major innovations? Naturally I meant four because how could one forget this newest addition to the stable –
And to finish off there’s this…
Ps. There’s always time for one last monopoly story, right? So here it is….
Recently my family and I holidayed at a mountain retreat (O’Reilly’s) adjacent to Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland. The idea of this place is for guests to get back to nature while unwinding and taking life at a more relaxed pace. ‘City-life detox’ was what we’d come for (some family members being more eager than others) and city life detox was most definitely what was served up. Hotel rooms didn’t have televisions, air-conditioning or internet access.
What they did have was board games. Lots of board games! If you asked at reception they’d prize open a cupboard and an Aladdin’s cave of old school favorites – think Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, Scategories, Kerplunk, Battleship and even the immortal classic Trouble would come spilling out like presents from Santa’s sack circa 1973.
Monopoly was there too but regrettably I wasn’t quick enough off the starting blocks. A Chinese man grabbed that one ahead of me. An hour later I spotted him again at the reception desk with the same Monopoly game tucked firmly under his wing. I wrongly assumed he’d finished playing and was returning it.
I chanced a friendly inquiry as we were both waiting in line while another guest tried without success (“Terribly sorry sir, this is a retreat. None of the rooms have televisions.”) to secure a tv-equipped room upgrade – “Wow, that was a quick game”, I enthused. “Playing with the speed die were you?”
Using perfect English he set me straight : “We haven’t started playing yet”. From that deflating moment on, and continuing for the rest of our two day stay, a weird dynamic developed between this 6 foot 2 inch chap and myself. Since it was a 25 kilometer dirt track trip down the isolation of the mountain for anyone wanting for a few hours to ‘retreat from the retreat’, most guests tended to remain on-site for the duration of their stay.
Guests got to know each other a little more under these enclosed circumstances. You’d start to recognize the same faces at the bar, the pool, the reading room, the games room etc. Every time I’d spot the Chinese man – whether it was in the dining room or feeding the parrots in the outside bird area or playing the ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ pinball machine with the slow-twitching right flipper in the entertainment precinct – I’d feel a strange compulsion to ask “How’s the Monopoly going?”
There’s no polite a term for it – I was Monopoly stalking. Maybe it’s the first time it’s ever been done anywhere in the world. But that’s what was going down. Even the usually obeyed Frozen-esque chidings of my wife to ‘Let it go’ fell on deaf ears. I had to have that Monopoly game.
I never did get that Monopoly game. To his credit, the Chinese man from Room 36 (Of course I got to find out his room number! What do you take me for … some kind of rank amateur?) always responded in a polite fashion to my none-too-innocent inquiries (cloaked by first engaging him in some distracting innocuous banter) regarding “How’s the game going?” In fact, he never once so much as even flinched – “Great game last night. Loved it so much we’ve got another one planned for this afternoon.”
I don’t in all honesty think he cottoned on at any stage to the fact that for two whole days he was the subject of surveillance and movement tracking the likes of which covert Intelligence units from any elite special forces unit you care to name (but can’t because they’re so secret) would have been proud to call their own.
It’s better he didn’t know how badly I wanted that Monopoly board. At the end of our stay, when the girl behind the reception desk opened up the creaking cupboard one final time to put back the games we had managed to borrow, I quickly eyed the shelves to see if the object of my nostalgic desire had yet been returned.
No dice. That Monopoly game and I were destined never to be united – at least while I was there. As we handed back our room keys and settled our account, I imagined even at that exact moment someone in Room 36 letting out a muffled cheer of joy because their thimble had landed on Mayfair and they had the cash in the bank to buy it.
PPS. A feature length MONOPOLY movie starring Kevin Hart (JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019) looks set to hit theatres early next year but in the meantime there’s this –
PPPS. Still haven’t had your fill of MONOPOLY related stories? Oh alright then … better click HERE.