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Want to Play Monopoly? Try a Friendlier Game.

Family Playing Board Game

If you’ve played the board game Monopoly, you have probably experienced the heated arguments, flipped boards, and endless play time that normally comes with it. But what you may not know about Monopoly is these horrible experiences we have are all part of the game.

When Monopoly was first designed and patented in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie it went by a different name. It was called the Landlord’s Game. And Magie, a follower of economist Henry George and the Law of Rent originally meant for the game to illustrate the consequences of economic privilege.

The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give.” (Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations; Book I, Chapter XI, “Of the Rent of Land”)

It was never supposed to be enjoyable to play Monopoly. It was supposed to make players angry. We were meant to feel the hardships Magie was trying to teach about first hand. The Landlord’s Monopoly was designed to be a teaching tool showing the error of our economy in an extremely approachable way. It would not be until 1933 when Parker Brothers purchased the patent and renamed the game Monopoly.



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Enter Co-opoly: The (more friendly) Game of Cooperatives

Fortunately, there’s another option for people who love the game but don’t like the anger flashes: Co-opoly.

Co-opoly is a cooperative board game for three to six players where everyone wins or loses together. You and your teammates found your own cooperative organization. You must guide your organization through a year of operation, represented by the game board, and must face global challenges and issues from within. The challenges take on the form of various team-building exercises that force players to work together. The points your team earns during these “mini games,” like Charades or Pictionary, help determine if your COOP succeeds or fails.

Just like a real world cooperative, players must make decisions democratically. When your team’s piece lands on a world event space you must discuss the challenge as a committee in order to determine the success or failure of your organization.

Sustainably produced by the TESA Collective within the USA, Co-opoly teaches its players the core values of a cooperative organization. Like Monopoly, it creates a scenario for its players where they can experience the economic principles it is based on. Monopoly shows the hardship of an unequal economy through its unfair and never-ending gameplay. Co-opoly teaches its players how to (loosely) run a cooperative through team-based gameplay focused around the seven core cooperative principals:

1. Open and Voluntary Membership: Membership in a cooperative is open to everyone who uses its services and is willing to take on the responsibilities of membership.

2. Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations run by their members. These members help set policies and make decisions within the organization. Elected representatives (board of directors) are voted in by the membership and serve the members as a whole.

3. Members’ Economic Participation: All members of the cooperative are responsible for contributing equity and democratically control the capital of the organization.

4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are independent organizations controlled by their members.

5. Education, Training, and Information: The education of members, community leaders, and the general public helps boost cooperative understanding.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives: By working together, cooperatives improve local economies and better serve social and community needs.

7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work towards the development of their communities through the policies supported by their membership.

Co-opoly makes us think about the advantages of working on our local economy together and the empowerment each of us has in saying how our organizations are run. As challenges arise in the game, we share the difficulty and experience it together. It makes it easier to take on the burden and give us the chance to express our different and equal voices. It makes us think about how everyone’s situation is different and we all don’t need the same amount of money but need the same amount of respect.


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David Tepfer

About David Tepfer

David Tepfer previously served as the creative marketing specialist at VSECU. He has a passion for all mediums of visual art, is an avid cyclist, and is an influential member of Burlington’s gaming community.
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