'Cheaters edition' of Monopoly cheerfully caters to sordid reality
By TRAVIS M. ANDREWS | The Washington Post | Published: February 5, 2018
In a heated game of Monopoly, there was always a certain gravitas in being the banker, the player who keeps a close eye on the money and ensures everyone plays by the rules. Without the banker, cheating would be almost inevitable.
But what if cheating was the whole point of the game? That’s the case in a new edition of Monopoly, which Hasbro will release in the fall, according to Insider.
The cheaters edition follows the rules of classic Monopoly, except this version encourages players to break them. In addition to the community chest and chance cards, this version includes 15 cheat cards. At any point, five of these can be in the middle of the board. They encourage players to cheat in various ways, from collecting rent on another player’s property or stealing money from the bank.
That last one shouldn’t be too difficult since "for the first time in Monopoly history, there is no designated Banker," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Hasbro gaming told Insider. "Players are in control of the Bank on their turn, and pass it to the next player when their turn is over, making it easier to pull [off] ’cheats.’"
Players who successfully cheat are handsomely rewarded for their deceit, while those caught red-handed are penalized. One of the more severe penalties is going to jail, a remnant of the original game but with a twist: Attached to this board is a toy handcuff the offending player must wear.
Much like in the original version, a player wins by collecting the most money.
Kirsten (@KirstenAcuna) tweeted "Happy to show off the newest addition to #Monopoly this fall -- a version of the game just for cheaters. And it’s called the Cheater’s Edition. @HasbroNews"
There are many versions of Monopoly, most created to attract fans of one thing or another. Those who loved "The Force Awakens" might buy the "Star Wars Edition," for example, while University of Wisconsin Badgers might display a copy of "Wisconsinopoly" atop their bookcases. But these versions still expect players to follow the rules, making the cheaters edition one of its more radical spinoffs.
The decision came after a company-sponsored survey found that "nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games" Berkowitz told Insider, adding, "so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they’ve been craving all along -- a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating."
Ironically, the announcement comes about two weeks after Hasboro announced the Monopoly CheatBot, a Facebook chatbot that Monopoly players can use from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16 to report someone cheating in a game in real time. The bot then doles out consequences for the offending player, such as going to jail or paying a $200 fine. The news release for the CheatBot also cited the survey that found about half of Monopoly players cheat.
Berkowitz sang a markedly different tune when announcing the CheatBot.
"The cheating has gone on too long! With nearly one out of every two MONOPOLY players bending -- or breaking -- the rules, we knew it was time to put an end to the cheating, and what better way to reach our fans than by leveraging the innovative Facebook Messenger technology," he said in the news release.
This cheaters edition might seem to some like a cynical perversion of a beloved board game, but it’s important to note that Monopoly itself has long been misunderstood.
When the precursor to Monopoly was originally thought up by Lizzie Magie in 1904 -- then called the Landlord’s Game -- its purpose was not to celebrate the acquisition of wealth. It was a harsh criticism of wealth disparity.
As author Mary Pilon -- who wrote a book about Monopoly called "The Monopolists" -- wrote in Smithsonian Magazine, Magie’s "stated goal was to demonstrate the evils of accruing vast sums of wealth at the expense of others."
Magie reportedly took particular issue with oil and railroad monopolists -- both of which appear in the game.
"In a short time, I hope a very short time, men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with," she told a reporter in 1906, according to Pilon.
While Monopoly eventually became one of the most popular board games in history, its message was certainly lost along the way. Players generally don’t consider the game a satire as they desperately battle to control Park Place. Perhaps this new cheaters edition might finally give them pause.