Monopoly: The Game
Owning property, having lots of money, and running a thriving business are parts of the American ideas of success. They are also parts of the board-game Monopoly. The ideas of prosperity within Monopoly remain throughout childhood, and into the adult life. The result of this creates a culture of people in the business world with the desires for more of the now real objects found in Monopoly. The basic ideas behind Monopoly are the same concepts of the essay "The More Factor" by Laurence Shames. In his essay Shames argues that the expansion of the frontier and acquisition of land has moved on to possession of material goods and economic growth as symbols of American success. Each of these has its equivalent in Monopoly. Success in the game is defined by owning the most property so as to acquire more money, to build material things, like houses and hotels, ultimately resulting in the financial destruction of your opponents. This type of success is an example of the way "more" works. Shames says that if a person has the strive to obtain more land or money his apparent success will also be greater. In Monopoly the player with the most drive to own more property will succeed. In the spirit of the more-driven frontiersmen who succeeded by sweeping away the Indians and Mexicans, the more-driven Monopoly player easily crushes his opponents by acquiring the most ! land. In other words, the "More-Factor" that Shames describes is the determining element when deciding who is the champion of the game. Monopoly can also be equated to Barthes' essay "Toys" when he states that toys "are essentially a microcosm of the adult world." Although
currently has anti-monopoly laws, the game still accurately represents the American business world. The goals and ideas of success in Monopoly are also present in the world of business, where the main objective is to make more money than the competition, eventually leading to a hold on the market. But Monopoly's representation of adult life does not stop with the business world. All Americans, no matter what profession they are in, hold some of the dreams within Monopoly, although not to the extremity of the game. We all hope to someday possess our own property. With this land we continue to improve it; not necessarily by adding more houses or hotels, but still changing it into something more than when we first acquired it. Another dream that Americans commonly hold is to continually make more money. Like in Monopoly, we use this money to buy a piece of land or a house; or to pay for the use of another person's land. Ultimately though, the goals of real life and Monopoly are the same; to earn money, own land, and not go bankrupt before the game is over. Finally Monopoly could be used to aid Prager when she argues that toys shape the goals, ideas, and virtues of a child's future. The main thing that a child acquires by playing Monopoly is value. He learns that money is something that has great value, and without it he will lose. He also discovers that it is wise to save money for any unexpected occurrence (like landing on your opponent's space.) He learns about the value of property. Since owning land is the only way to win in Monopoly, a youth that plays it will obtain a respect for property, and its value in American culture. Likewise children learn the ways of business. They unknowingly pick up the basics of the free enterprise system of America. Monopoly helps them to make better business deals, and that not all thing, although similiar in nature, are worth the same amount of money. Along with the obvious fact that they are working on their mathematics by adding up their money. Maybe the best lesson that children get from Monopoly is the fact the jail is a negative thing, and should be avoided. However they may get the idea that jail has no negative repercussions in the future. Children could believe that after paying a fifty dollar fine, or coughing up a "Get out of jail free" card, the entire incident is completely forgotten. Monopoly can accurately be seen three different ways. First as a symbol of the quest for more, or as a metaphor of the adult world that the children will someday face, finally it can be seen as a tool to teach our children appropriate values and goals. Any way we look at Monopoly however, we cannot avoid the symbols of success spread throughout the various aspects of the game.