Monopoly is not my first game of choice. The thing is, though, my 17-year-old son, Jack, loves Monopoly. He’s loved it ever since he was a little kid. From the power of being banker to the pride and ownership he gets from collecting up property, it’s been a staple in our house for years. I’ll even admit I once paid an obscene amount of money for a cool collector’s edition of the game as a special Christmas gift to Jack. (I really don’t love the game, but I do love my kid.)
Now I know how a lot of serious tabletop gamers look at the game of Monopoly. Like me, many of them are not fans. If you say you love Monopoly, they will immediately tell you there are so many better games out there to play. They’ll likely start listing them off and trying to convince you that you just haven’t been exposed to enough games.
And you know what? They’re right to an extent. There are a lot of better games—thematically, mechanically, and structurally—when compared to the game of Monopoly. I’ve played many other great games with my family. Yet, it doesn’t change Jack’s perspective. He’s a Monopoly fan for life, and honestly, I’ve seen it bring him a lot of joy. Isn’t this a big part of why we all play games?
Monopoly can both bring people together and push them apart.
With Jack loving the game of Monopoly and me now working for a game board company, it got me thinking about why there’s such a divide about this game. Most of us have probably played Monopoly at some point in our lives and can tell you exactly what we think of it within seconds. The stats around this game are pretty interesting. Monopoly:
- is one of the best-selling board games of all time (only chess, checkers, and backgammon beat it).
- has been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
- is consistently on articles and listicles for “top family board games.”
- was originally designed and created by a woman—Lizzie Magie was a true trailblazer, creating the first version of this game in a man-dominated industry.
At the same time, Monopoly is listed as the #1 game families fight over. (I can verify this personally.) Plus, I’ve consistently seen it in forums and on lists of games that are overrated.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that the board game industry (outside of Hasbro who owns the rights) doesn’t love the game. It easily outsells all other board games, which are created with a lot of love and care from these creative and extremely talented independent companies and designers. They would love for people to move beyond games like Monopoly to experience their new—and arguably better—games.
Thus, the divide continues. On a regular basis, I communicate with people and families who list Monopoly as their favorite game. And at the same time, I hear board game enthusiasts and designers talk about what a terrible game it is.
You can have your Monopoly, and play other games, too.
I’ve finally come to a happy place in regards to Monopoly. The long and short of it is that I’m okay with it. I can coexist with Monopoly, and I hope others can as well.
No, it’s not my favorite game. There are a LOT of other things I’d rather play and do play with my kids. However, it’s what many consider a “gateway game” for so many kids and families. (These are games that help introduce people to the hobby of board games—here’s a great gateway games list right here.)
We don’t need to shame people who love and appreciate mainstream games. A lot of times, people have these lovely memories of playing these games or sharing special moments with loved ones. For me, it’s the game of Skip-Bo with my great-grandmother, Almurta. She was always up for a game, well into her 90s, and it’s made me a lifelong fan.
Love it or hate it, Monopoly brings family and friends together around the table in a meaningful way. Few forms of entertainment can compete with the screen-free joy you can get from playing a board game. This is true whether you’re playing Monopoly, Scrabble, or our game, Trekking the National Parks. From mental health benefits to quality family time, all board games do a lot of good.
Like so many other busy families these days, it’s hard to find those free nights where you can just sit around the kitchen table and play a game. If playing Monopoly gives me quality time with my kids, then I’m all in. So instead of shaming, let’s try to be a welcoming community to all those Monopoly lovers out there. After all, we can’t just convert them cold turkey.