Monday, December 11, 2006

The World's Most Famous Game & How It Got That Way

Love it or hate it, chances are pretty good that you've played Monopoly at some point in your life. (For the record, I'm in the "love it" camp.)

Either way, Larry Levy wrote a very nice review of Philip Orbanes new book, Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game & How It Got That Way over on Boardgame News. (Larry is famous for a couple of things: he's the designer of Head to Head Golf & some very nice variants for a number of games... and he was my roommate at Gulf Games. OK, maybe the 2nd one isn't so important.) You should go read it right now... it's entitled Sleeping with the Enemy.

I'm with Larry - the second half of the book is a bit less interesting (though still fun to a Monopoly fan like me)... but the first half is worth the price of admission. (Of course, I checked it out from the library, so I definitely got my money's worth.)

What I wanted to note is an interesting comment tucked away in the chapter entitled "G.I. Gamers: 1945-1958" when Mr. Orbanes is talking about Waddingtons rebuilding the distribution network following World War 2:

Waddington rebuilt its relationships with its many licensees. The Miro company not only relaunched Monopoly but also provided production for Franz Schmidt until it could rebuild its factory in Germany. In a controversial move, Schmidt decided not to reintroduce its ill-fated Berlin edition. [Earlier in the book, Orbanes talks about the problems Schmidt had w/the Nazis threatened ban of this edition.] In its place, it designed a game whose streets bore no connection to any specific German city. This was a misstep. Without the identity of its capital city, sales were lackluster. Henceforth Monopoly would be less significant in Germany than in other European countries.

Wait a minute! I may be reading between the lines here, but is Orbanes saying that Monopoly had less effect on German games & gaming than on other countries? And if he is, does that help explain why Germany has been the center of the designer gaming universe? Hmmm...


Anonymous said...

Coincidentally (?) today's poll on my This or That? page is "Scrabble or Monopoly?" To my surprise, Scrabble is winning by a good margin right now.

huzonfirst said...

Hmm, I'm not sure the Head to Head Golf designing is that important either. But thanks for the plug.

The same thing occured to me about Germany and Monopoly, Mark. I suspect other things had a greater effect, but it's an interesting thought.