What Monopoly Can Teach Our Children

Posted by Allison on 4 April 2009, 10:03

Monopoly ranks as one of the most popular games in the world, and its charm has captivated both children and adults alike for decades.  While the early versions of Monopoly sprang into life in America in the first few years of the twentieth century, it wasn't until the Seventies that it really took off and became a staple part of everyone's childhood.

You only need to look at the vast number of variations that are available today to see how the game has been marketed to appeal to different groups of people.  While the original game could be played by children there have been different versions of it that are easier to play for younger children; while still giving them an essential taster of what it is like to buy and sell.

The great thing about Monopoly is that it is a watered down version of real life.  Children get to learn about money in a way that teaches them valuable lessons about what to expect when they get older.  What's more it can do this while still remaining a fun and involving game the whole family can play.

One of the main interests about this game is that it is produced in many different styles and guises, in order to appeal to people in different countries.  The famous Monopoly money had small currency denominations in the versions of the game that were available a few decades ago, and it is probably these banknotes that most people of a certain age remember.  One interesting thing to note is that there are no coins used during the game – you simply give change in the guise of lower denomination banknotes.

Some of the more recent editions of the game have featured the onset of inflation though, with the currency of the game being available in much higher amounts than in previous editions.  The top value note was £500 in older games, but the Here and Now edition released a few years ago in the UK (featuring all new locations to buy) had prices of properties and banknotes going into the thousands.

So why do kids love this game so much?  If you had to think of a game that has endured for decades and captured the attention of a new band of children with every year that passes, Monopoly is the one title that immediately springs to mind.  It's actually quite difficult to think of anything else that really fits the description quite like this game does.

One of the key reasons is the fact that the game can be re-branded and marketed to feature different locations and interests, without damaging the game itself and how it is played.  In this way it can keep itself fresh without changing the actual concept of the game in any way.

There are several parts of the game which can be customised to target a specific group of people, and in fact there has even been a version of Monopoly which leaves it up to the buyer to create their own game board and insert their own properties and locations to buy.  Another version has used the Simpsons as a base for the game, featuring lots of different locations from Springfield, the town the Simpsons live in.  Not only is this a great version of a classic game, it is also a wonderful way to introduce it to a younger audience.  By using popular characters that are familiar to younger people, the makers of Monopoly are virtually guaranteed to get an audience for their games well into the future.

But kids are also attracted to the game because it isn't over in five minutes.  It's a great choice for a rainy day as the adults can join in too, and children get to learn how to manage the money they are given at the start of the game.  Learning about money, currency, finance and buying and managing property is something that can be boring if it is handled in the wrong way, but Monopoly makes it easy to start introducing these ideas without teaching them or trying to keep the attention of the kids in the first place.

It's also a game which teaches the value of consequences.  Children of all ages must learn that everything they do has consequences, and Monopoly certainly gets this point across very easily.  If you buy too many properties, not only can you run out of money but you can also find it difficult to pay the rent that you owe by landing on someone else's.  The whole concept of owing money and having to pay for things yourself is one that this board game teaches in a unique and exciting way.

It's hard to believe that this 'property trading game' is still so popular with kids after all these years.  On the face of it, trading in property and buying and building hotels and houses doesn't exactly sound like an exciting game for anyone, let alone young children!  The makers have released a slightly altered game for the kids however – Junior Monopoly, which introduces the concept to younger children without watering it down too much.  If you start them off on this version it will only be a matter of time before they want to get the main board out of the cupboard.

Most people have fond memories of going bankrupt as a result of poor investment decisions in their youth – thanks to this board game, of course.  There is no doubt that it does educate and prepare children a bit about the real world and how things work.  The whole buying and selling idea is one which has a lot of lessons wrapped up in it, and there can't be too many families who don't have at least one version of Monopoly at home to bring out when even the computer games don't entertain the kids any more.

It is a testament to its lasting appeal that it is still going strong today.