The game Monopoly, one of the most venerable of U.S. board games, has recently received a makeover right out of the pages of technology news. It’s now possible to buy a voice-activated edition. (Purists shouldn’t worry; standard Monopoly, without any tech innovation, will still be sold also.) The voice-activated edition will be available starting in July, and it is called Monopoly Voice Banking.
Does It Change the Game?
Monopoly is, of course, a game about economics, real estate style. In many respects, the game remains the same. The goal is to collect as many properties as you can as you travel around the board, and players also continue to want to drive the others into bankruptcy.
There are some notable changes, however. The voice is given to Mr. Monopoly, the game’s top-hatted icon. He is now a more powerful figure, as he is going to control the bank, which has historically been controlled by human players. Players will respond to the tokens they receive moving around the board; they will press a button on the hat that matches their token and then receive instruction from Mr. Monopoly. He also receives instruction on what they want to do. So in some respects, he has more of a, well, monopoly, on the actions of the game.
Will this feel, in real-life play, that he actually controls more? Or will it feel that the players are still in command and he is the go-between? In other words, will he be the invisible hand of the market or a service provider like Alexa? Only early players can tell.
Other changes streamline the game and bring it more in line with the contemporary. There will be, for instance, few railroads, perhaps in keeping with the decline of real-world railroads.
The new edition will no longer have physical money.
Only Digital Money
Another change is that the exchange of physical money will no longer take place in the game. While many observers see this as a useful innovation that mirrors the dispensing of digital cash in the contemporary world, others see it as a potential drawback, according to Slate. First, the early response to the announcement of a voice-activated edition on Facebook indicated that many users felt that the absence of physical money made the game less fun.
Second, though, many personal finance educators pointed out that the absence of cash made Monopoly less useful as a way to teach young children about financial literacy. Greater or smaller amounts, for example, may be more difficult concepts to grasp for very young children without a physical analogy.
Again, though, people wanting to use traditional Monopoly still have access to it. This is not the first time the game has rolled out an innovative new edition. A U.K. edition used digital credit cards, and Millennial Monopoly uses experiences as the goal rather than properties. Perhaps kudos are in order for a business strategy in which Monopoly, one of the oldest of U.S. board games, remains contemporary and therefore timeless.