Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I hate Monopoly

I dislike Monopoly, and I am proud to say it. A classic board game invented by the Parker Brothers in 1935 (originally a derivative of 'The Landlord's Game' by Elizabeth Phillips) is a game about being the biggest asshole in the room. Oh yes, this game has made me cringe and roll my eyes in tedious, mindless repetitiveness for many years until the day my sister and I somehow both came to the conclusion that playing it was an utter waste of our time. People don't like to admit they hate things, especially when it comes to entities that existed in a 'high culture' or golden age of society. Holding reverence for classical things seems to give people a sense of importance and a feeling of being more civilized. Whether this be books, music, poetry or in this case ... board games, having respect for the aging and popular things in life qualifies you as a normal person in our glorious modern age of humanity.

For this particular case, Monopoly, I do not respect. I do not like it, and I will explain to you why.

1. It is slow
First of all, I have both won at the game and lost at it. Winning involved me being younger, less opinionative and more excitable, essentially being blinded to its flaws. It also involved everyone just giving up. Losing involved me being exactly the same, except me being one of the ones giving up. The giving up process usually took between 3-4 hours. Most of this time was spent looking at people moving various board pieces, counting their money or counting my own. Or in jail. It takes so long for things to get into motion and so long for anything even remotely resembling a winning condition to emerge that most people remember just how slow the game is and .. give up.

2. It is boring
For the most part, it is a game of attrition. Unless you are playing with people who are not solely relying on the action packed experience of observing a pile of cardboard and plastic for 3-4 hours, you are going to be bored completely out of your mind. Monopoly is fine if it is played with some light, off topic discussion, but mostly people are so engrossed in the experience of doing virtually nothing that they find conversation disruptive. They take the game so stupidly seriously!! You can pretend all you want that you are forming a winning strategy in the back of your mind, but you know you are in the same boat as everyone else. Waiting for your turn to roll so your heart can light up or flop when you land on a spot on the board. Which leads to my next point being that ...

3. It is driven completely by the roll of the dice
I am a Guru for games with skill and balance, and this game has virtually none. It is all luck. You could pretend to be the best monopoly player in the world and get trounced by a newbie learning the ropes with a consistent stream of unlucky dice rolls. Who lands on Mayfair first is not determined by you, and should you get it, you know you did absolutely nothing of worth to get there. Luck. It does not equal skill. And I think people know it, whether they admit it or not. Why? Because ...

4. The game encourages cheating and sleazy behaviour
A presence of luck sets off some part of people's minds that make them become cheating sleazebags. This is particularly true in games or events that actually do require skill and when a player KNOWS they are not going to win without cheating. Steroids in sports are the same as aimbots in FPS games (albeit a significant physical component). In monopoly this translates to giving incorrect change, overcharging, stealing or even innocently landing on someone's property and hoping they don't notice. These are all behaviours you would be fined and possibly sent to jail over in real life. Apparently these activities are "part of the game" and "how its meant to be played". If that's true then this game is sick and I want as little to do with it than I possibly can.

5. It is not a friendly game
Grinding your friends and family into the dust over hours of questionable game-play is sure to create tension. Conflicts can arise, disputes over properties and cheating and getting unlucky. I don't know about other people, but I don't like watching people suffer or be miserable for extended periods of time. This may be the hunter in me talking but giving your prey a quick and painless demise is more humane than torturing them to death. It is also honorable, showing a lack of negative emotion and some personal consideration for your foe, even in death. As much as I hate people in general, I don't like dragging out victories or defeats for hours on end. This just leads to more frustration and more bursts of unqualified glee for whoever it is who thinks they are winning. You are not winning. You are being a wanker.

6. It delivers a terrible message
People living in high society have traditionally had an incredible misunderstanding and under-appreciation for the working class citizens. Look at Marie Antoinette for a prime example. The picture of upper class rich bastards debating and competing for land which possibly houses thousands of citizens while sipping wine glasses and adjusting their monocles is an image I find incredibly disturbing. Depending on your point of view, actual real world monopolies can be a bad thing. Take Microsoft for example. Sure they have made a platform from which the average PC user can globally use and unite, but they completely control that sector of the market. Without competition they have all the say concerning the price of their products (i.e. ridiculously overpriced) and just what gets released.

Want an example? A recent project which was hoping to deliver cross platform gaming between Xbox and PC users was canned when PC users were found to be too dominant. Why? Well the only logical reason is because they want people to keep playing on the Xbox. This shuts down the market for a lot of PC developers in terms of demographics and forces players to play certain games on only one exclusive platform (i.e. Halo - Xbox). Because they control Xbox Live, the (paid) networking interface for the Xbox console, they can simply do whatever they want. There is nothing we can do otherwise.

7. Gambling
I hate gambling

8. It makes me want to punch people in the face!
This is really the main point of this whole post. For all the above reasons, whether people are oblivious to it or not, when I roll that stupid dice and land on your stupid property and have to look at your stupid smug face with its stupid smirk, I literally have to hold myself back from smashing it in. This game makes me incredibly angry, for all the wrong reasons. It is supposed to be a competitive game and yet sometimes there is nothing you can do from being slowly beaten down over time. It is different from the anger I will feel in say, a fighting game. I may tell my friends how much I hate them (jokingly) and how that round was total bullshit, but I know I could have done something about it if I was quick/clever enough. It is my fault. But in monopoly? The reason I am angry is not because of me. It's all on you, you selfish, cheating, poncy, arrogant bastard!

So that is why I hate monopoly. I have rarely enjoyed it. It is one of the few things I actually truly dislike. If you were to play it casually for an hour with some beers and light conversation some time then sure, count me in.

If not, then you are going to want to be real careful playing that game around me...

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