Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Board Games Taught Us About the Economy

Some funny and not so funny just because they are true anecdotes from Slate.com's "The Big Money" - What Board Games Taught Us About the Economy.

Here we have been running around looking for root causes of our mess; after looking through the slides in the piece I see Hasbro / Milton Bradley has been the issue all along.

  1. Monopoly: Monopoly has taught us that financial institutions are invincible. The game's banker cannot go bankrupt, according to the rules: "The Bank never ‘goes broke.' (I especially love the next sentence!) If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much as needed by writing on any ordinary paper."
  2. The Game of Life: In The Game of Life, anyone can buy a mansion! The size/price of your home isn't determined by how wealthy you are, the rules say: "Draw 1 House Deed at random from the deck. Pay the bank the price on the deed (not the insurance amount; that's a separate transaction). If you're short on cash, you must borrow from the bank."
  3. Acquire: (never heard of this game) In Acquire, the instructions say, "You make money by forming corporations, buying the right stock at the right time, as well as merging and expanding corporations in which you own stock." That sounds about right. But then again, is it smart to turn stock market investing into a kids' game?
  4. PayDay: (must of missed this one as well) PayDay teaches kids how to get wealthy. We're not so sure that this particular rule still applies: “As any financial advisor will tell you, the way to get ahead financially is to make Deals. It's the American way! So take advantage whenever you can. The time will probably come when you don't have enough money on hand to buy a Deal—or to pay your bills, pay a neighbor or make a charitable donation you are instructed to make. So, do what any red-blooded American would do: Take out a LOAN!” (oye!)
  5. Risk: Although the game is about war, it contains a lesson for the corporate world: Those who try to master the universe may end up in trouble. The rules say, “If you decide to take over the world in one turn, and fail, you will usually be so scattered that it would be easy for the next player to eliminate you.”
  6. Mall Madness: (frankly I am not only glad I did not know this was a board game, but am frightened that it is - replete with what appears to be a 10 year old girl on the box; her hairstyle is age 32 however) While Mall Madness players are encouraged to purchase items on sale, spending, not saving, gets rewarded in this game. The rules state: “When you move onto the bank space, insert your credit card into the bank slot. The Voice will tell you to take $50, $75, or $100 from the bank, or you will be told that the bank is closed. Once you get money from the bank, you can’t go back to the bank until you buy something. If you stop at the bank without buying something first, the Voice will say, ‘Bank closed.’ ” (classic Americana - you literally are barred from saving!)

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