What You Didn't Know About Monopoly

Did you know that, according to Mashable, the game of Monopoly was actually invented by a Left-wing activist who meant for the game to teach children the evils of capitalism, rather than extol the virtues of price-gouging landlords? According to the BBC, Elizabeth Magie invented the game as a critique on the basis of the capitalist system: the ownership of private property. Kate Raworth, the author of the piece, states that Magie "would have sent herself straight to jail if she'd lived to know just how influential today's twisted version of her game turned out to be."

In true capitalist fashion, Magie's good idea was stolen by a less imaginative but more opportunistic person. Her original game became popular among Leftist intellectuals, college students, and Quakers, who for some reason ended up modifying her original Monopoly rules and redesigned the board to reflect street names from Atlantic City, New Jersey. One such player of the revamped game was an unemployed and rather unimaginative man named Charles Darrow. He liked the Jersey version of the game so much that he took it to Parker Brothers, sold it to them as his own creation, and made a few million bucks. Classic.

The original idea behind Monopoly

Magie called her creation The Landlord's Game, and it originally had two sets of rules. The "Prosperity" set was meant to teach what she had learned from reading Henry George's classic work of economic theory, Progress and Poverty, which argues that "the equal right of all men to use the land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air — it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence." Therefore, in this version, all players earned a land value tax when someone landed on a property. Victory for the people — all players won — was achieved when the one who had started out with the least amount of money doubled their bank roll.

The other set of "Monopolist" rules encouraged the exact opposite: all players attempting to bankrupt the others until a sole filthy rich capitalist achieved peak wealth inequality. (Sounds a lot like how the game is played both on and off the board.)

We all know which set of rules Parker Brothers chose to go with after it bought Magie's patent from her and never mentioned her again. According to The Guardian, the company changed the name to Monopoly and marketed the game as the brainchild of Darrow, who went on to make millions off of it. When asked by a Philadelphia reporter how he came up with the idea for the game, Darrow lied through his teeth: "It's a freak. Entirely unexpected and illogical."