Monopoly: The Game
Owning property, having lots of money, and running a
thriving business are parts of the American ideas of
success. They are also parts of the board-game Monopoly.
The ideas of prosperity within Monopoly remain throughout
childhood, and into the adult life. The result of this
creates a culture of people in the business world with the
desires for more of the now real objects found in Monopoly.
The basic ideas behind Monopoly are the same concepts of
the essay "The More Factor" by Laurence Shames. In his
essay Shames argues that the expansion of the frontier and
acquisition of land has moved on to possession of material
goods and economic growth as symbols of American success.
Each of these has its equivalent in Monopoly. Success in
the game is defined by owning the most property so as to
acquire more money, to build material things, like houses
and hotels, ultimately resulting in the financial
destruction of your opponents. This type of success is an
example of the way "more" works. Shames says that if a
person has the strive to obtain more land or money his
apparent success will also be greater. In Monopoly the
player with the most drive to own more property will
succeed. In the spirit of the more-driven frontiersmen who
succeeded by sweeping away the Indians and Mexicans, the
more-driven Monopoly player easily crushes his opponents by
acquiring the most ! land. In other words, the
"More-Factor" that Shames describes is the determining
element when deciding who is the champion of the game.
Monopoly can also be equated to Barthes' essay "Toys" when
he states that toys "are essentially a microcosm of the
adult world." Although the United States currently has
anti-monopoly laws, the game still accurately represents
the American business world. The goals and ideas of success
in Monopoly are also present in the world of business,
where the main objective is to make more money than the
competition, eventually leading to a hold on the market.
But Monopoly's representation of adult life does not stop
with the business world. All Americans, no matter what
profession they are in, hold some of the dreams within
Monopoly, although not to the extremity of the game. We all
hope to someday possess our own property. With this land we
continue to improve it; not necessarily by adding more
houses or hotels, but still changing it into something more
than when we first acquired it. Another dream that
Americans commonly hold is to continually make more money.
Like in Monopoly, we use this money to buy a piece of land
or a house; or to pay for the use of another person's land.
Ultimately though, the goals of real life and Monopoly are
the same; to earn money, own land, and not go bankrupt
before the game is over. Finally Monopoly could be used to
aid Prager when she argues that toys shape the goals,
ideas, and virtues of a child's future. The main thing that
a child acquires by playing Monopoly is value. He learns
that money is something that has great value, and without
it he will lose. He also discovers that it is wise to save
money for any unexpected occurrence (like landing on your
opponent's space.) He learns about the value of property.
Since owning land is the only way to win in Monopoly, a
youth that plays it will obtain a respect for property, and
its value in American culture. Likewise children learn the
ways of business. They unknowingly pick up the basics of
the free enterprise system of America. Monopoly helps them
to make better business deals, and that not all thing,
although similiar in nature, are worth the same amount of
money. Along with the obvious fact that they are working on
their mathematics by adding up their money. Maybe the best
lesson that children get from Monopoly is the fact the jail
is a negative thing, and should be avoided. However they
may get the idea that jail has no negative repercussions in
the future. Children could believe that after paying a
fifty dollar fine, or coughing up a "Get out of jail free"
card, the entire incident is completely forgotten. Monopoly
can accurately be seen three different ways. First as a
symbol of the quest for more, or as a metaphor of the adult
world that the children will someday face, finally it can
be seen as a tool to teach our children appropriate values
and goals. Any way we look at Monopoly however, we cannot
avoid the symbols of success spread throughout the various
aspects of the game.