Monopoly is a two- to eight-player board game about real estate development in which the goal is to acquire and develop as much property as possible while simultaneously driving your opponents into bankruptcy.
There are ten small rectangles on each side of the square board, each representing a different place or event, such as property, railroad, utility, jail, etc. Starting with a predetermined amount of money, players move around the board using a pair of dice to determine their next move.
Anyone landing on an unowned property has the option to purchase it, but if they do so on another player’s property, they must pay rent to that player. Unfavourable or favourable cards can be drawn from certain non-property squares, depending on the player’s position on them.
If a player obtains a monopoly, he or she has the option of making improvements to all of the properties in that monopoly, which raises the rental fee significantly. When a player loses all of his or her money, he or she is out of the game. Bankruptcy is a game-ending event. The winner of the game is whoever is left standing on the board at the end.
When Charles B. Darrow, an unemployed heating engineer, sold the idea to Parker Brothers in 1935, the result was the best-selling privately patented board game in history: Monopoly. Until then, people across the United States had been making their versions of a similar game.
Most were based on Lizzie G. Magie’s Landlord’s Game, a 1904 board game. In 1924, she revised and renewed her game’s patent. To be clear, the game Magie devised didn’t use the concept of a monopoly; instead, it was meant to illustrate how greedy landlords might exploit their tenants.
One solution to this exploitation—the single property tax—was promoted by Magie by way of the Landlord’s Game. This was an issue of great concern to critics of the practice of land speculation.
As a handmade board game, the Landlord’s Game was still in circulation in the early 1900s, as well as other variations that included the monopolisation of properties Both the brothers Louis and Fred Thun, who had given up their patent attempt in 1931 after learning of Magie’s 1904 patent and Dan Layman, who had named his game Finance but had not sought to protect its intellectual property, advocated for this rewrite.
Monopoly was popular in the Northeastern United States between 1933 and 1934 when Darrow drew from earlier models. In the end, demand surpassed his ability to mass-produce the game sets, but Parker Brothers had to be convinced of the game’s merit numerous times.
To market Monopoly, Parker Brothers used the story of an out-of-work engineer who was looking for inexpensive entertainment during the Great Depression to sell the game. Parker Brothers settled lawsuits brought by others who claimed to have invented Monopoly.
Many other countries adopted the Monopoly concept and adopted it as their own. There were Atlantic City streets named for properties in the original North American sets. Marvin Gardens, which is a misspelling of the real Marven Gardens in Atlantic City, is one of the most notable examples.
For example, London streets are used in the British version of the game. Other North American cities, such as Chicago, have been licenced for Monopoly games, and prominent local landmarks and points of interest are used as properties instead of street names.