Charles Darrow is the first game designer to become a millionaire. He’s known for inventing Monopoly and is credited by the Parker Brothers, the company that sold the game, as the inventor.
But that’s wrong. Darrow became a millionaire by tweaking the rules and securing the copyright. In truth, the game, once known as the Landlord’s Game, was invented by Lizzie Magie. Magie was paid only $500 for her rights to the game and died without being credited for her influential work.
And the secret history of Monopoly is even more surprising, even more, relevant for today’s social tensions than many might suspect.
This video, shared two weeks ago by the director and creator Daniel Stankler, wonderfully and quickly describes the game’s roots. Some people might even call those the socialist roots of the iconically capitalist roots of the game.
The video has been commissioned by The Gravel Institute, and the nonprofit was created to further the life’s work of American Senator Mike Gravel. Gravel worked as a Special Agent in the United States Army, in the Counterintelligence Corp and infiltrated French communist rallies.
Today The Gravel Institute is more active in fighting right-wing disinformation, running a Patreon to fund their work.
Hasbro, the game’s current owners, make no mention of Lizzie Magie on their dot-com. They have, at least, taken down a timeline of the game’s history which once played the origin of the game at 1935 and with Charles Darrow. It’s not clear whether this removal was part of a general site-wide reorganisation, though.
Today, you can buy Ms Monopoly from Hasbro It’s a game suitable for ages 8 and up, focusing on many of the things we take for granted today that could not exist without women, such as wifi, chocolate chip cookies and bulletproof vests. In Ms Monopoly, women make more money than men, but anyone can play as a woman if they want.
Earlier this year, Hasbro also ran a community vote to determine new Community Chest cards for the game. The winners will be announced later but could include cards like “Shop Local”, “Rescue a Puppy”, or “Help Your Neighbours”.
A Hasbro partner, The Op also make Monopoly games such as Monopoly Godzilla (which surely is an oxymoron), Monopoly D&D and Monopoly Naruto Shippuden. The Op plant trees to hepl tackle the real dangers of climate change for each board game they sell directly.
However, Hasbro did release a parody game Monopoly Socialism with the tagline “Winning Is For Capitalists” which was slammed as mean-spirited and woefully ill-informed and included jokes about environmentalism and voting.
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