Behind Story of Monopoly

Lizzie Magie, inventor of the Landlord’s Game, which we now know as Monopoly, in 1936

This is Lizzie Magie, the woman who invented Monopoly. Rewind to the late 19th century, Magie was a feminist and staunch anti-capitalist. Laissez-faire capitalism was in its heyday, and the rich were only getting richer. Magie was inspired by the writings of Henry George, a land reformer and political economist who believed that wealthy landowners were unfairly profiting off the rent and labor of others. His solution was a single tax on land that would replace all other taxes and ultimately lead to a fairer economy.

In 1903, Magie wanted to popularize Henry George’s progressive ideas. So she invented and patented a board game, designed to educate the public. It was called the Landlord’s Game. Magie created two sets of rules: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. She wanted to show how American capitalism was a race to the bottom, a flawed system that thrived on the ever-deepening divide between rich and poor.

Where is her copyrights?

Lizzie Margie’s place in the game’s folk history was lost for decades and ceded to the man who had picked it up at his friend’s house – Charles Darrow

Charles Darrow, an ambitious and unemployed heater contractor from Philadelphia. After playing the game at a dinner party in 1932, he created his own version and then sold the rights to the Parker Brothers in 1935. It became a massive success. With Parker Brothers writing Magie out of Monopoly’s origin story, Darrow became a millionaire and received royalties throughout his life. But on the other hand, Magie received only $500 for a patent and two other games other games she invented.

Good game, Good design

The Original Monopoly board patent in 1935

We don’t really recognize when we are playing, but monopoly has a really complicated financial and social message. Magie would had to predict the number of cases that could happen in the game. Even though it is complex, she made a good flow on this game.  I think because she followed the board game design strategy well. She came up with an idea after she got inspired by Henry George’s theory. The first step in any design is to figure out what the project will be. Starting with a theme gives designer the ability to flesh out the idea.

Monopoly was my favorite game when I was a kid and there is a same game called “Blue Marvel” in my country. Now I grew up and wanted to know how board game design and strategies are made. Monopoly is very detailed economic-themed board game. It shows today’s capitalism really well.

Writing Sources–gamedev-11607