What is Monopoly&Reg;?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Monopoly® is a board game which is produced by Parker Brothers, a game company currently owned by Hasbro. In the game, players use dice to move around a board, landing on property which they have the option to purchase and develop. If land is already owned, players must pay rents to the property's owner and developer. The game also includes “Chance” and “Community Chest” squares associated with cards which can influence player's fortunes, forcing them to move to various spaces on the board, requiring them to pay taxes or other fees, or awarding them money.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The history of the game of Monopoly® is quite fascinating. The earliest version of the game was developed by Elizabeth Magie, and it was intended to be an educational illustration of the ways in which landlords abuse tenants with rents. Her version of the game would be familiar to modern players of Monopoly®, although there are some marked differences, of course. Magie's game quickly spread, and was picked up by a number of people, spreading slowly through the United States until it landed in the household of a man named Charles Darrow.

Darrow clearly knew a potentially profitable thing when he saw it, and he developed the famous “Atlantic City” version of Monopoly®, with each square being associated with a location in Atlantic City. He patented the game in 1935, and attempted to sell it to Parker Brothers. The company initially rejected Monopoly® as being too hard to play and too long, later changing their minds, which turned out to be a good decision, since an estimated 750 million people played the game between 1935 and 2007.

Charles Darrow is often credited as the inventor of Monopoly®, although this is technically incorrect, and this has been a source of friction and dispute in the past. Some people argue that the game was clearly a folk game before Darrow got his hands on it, arguing that Parker Brothers essentially stole the rights to the game from its earlier developers, profiting immensely as a result. Others believe that Darrow's refinements and additions to the game were what made it so popular, and that he is entitled to the credit for Monopoly®.

In any case, this two to eight player game has become immensely popular around the world, with numerous regional spinoffs and updated versions designed to reflect changes in the economy. Players struggle for economic supremacy over a Monopoly® board in some region of the world every night, and competition can get fierce. Masters of the game can even play in professional tournaments.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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