Raybon Kan: Monopoly more like Snakes and Ladders

Every player starting on level footing in Monopoly doesn't reflect life as we know it - and there's so much unused real estate in the middle of the board. Photo / File
Every player starting on level footing in Monopoly doesn't reflect life as we know it - and there's so much unused real estate in the middle of the board. Photo / File

In developments nobody needed, Wellington's finally getting its own version of Monopoly.

There's already a New Zealand version, and an Auckland one. So Wellington was next.

Should it have been Christchurch? Probably not. Christchurch Monopoly would just be a huge pile of Jenga.

I'm in Wellington, so I can report, yes, all of Monopoly's squares could be Wellingtonised.

Railway stations? Yep, we got stations. The cable car from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn, I counted, has at least four stops. Tick.

Electric Company? Wind turbines in Makara. Or the wind, in general. Or the sheer power of artisanal coffee.

Water Works? The famous bucket fountain. It's wadeable, swimmable, drinkable: basically Nick Smith's wet dream. So wet, it can't be long before some beverage giant starts bottling it for export, so overseas consumers can enjoy the bucket fountain's natural, 100% pure, Cuba Mall spring.

Mayfair? Oriental Parade. But don't let Winston hear that. If he hears Oriental, he'll say the price has been inflated by Asian immigrants. He'd be outraged it isn't called Dinkum Kiwi Parade. Or Grey Power Gold Card Parade.

But while boxes can be ticked, does swapping London names for Wellington names, achieve anything? To put it bluntly: does Monopoly send the right message, during a (cough) housing crisis?

Monopoly is all about being a landlord. Nobody in Monopoly is buying to own their own home. The goal is to charge rent, rent, and more rent, til finally, you get to demolish all your houses - heritage be damned - rezone the whole street, change height restrictions, and put up a grotesque hotel. Hello, Donald.

There's no young couple buying in Old Kent Road for a do-up. You might as well rename Monopoly to Snakes and Ladders, because that's what developers and landlords are - snakes. It's their rampant speculation that's preventing honest, good-looking millennials getting on the ladder.

So how could Monopoly be updated?

Well, first we have to admit an economy can't sustain by having everyone circle the board, rats on a wheel, charging rent, trading houses, hoping to avoid bankruptcy or jail. That's a form of Ponzi scheme.

We need real productivity.

Look at all the space on the board that's unused. Except for those rectangles, Chance and Community Chest - unsustainable government hand-outs - giant tracts in the middle of the board are blank, wild, completely undeveloped, their value unrealised. Not even DOC is involved. These areas need to be opened up, for things like dairy, grapes, tourism, or the impending cannabis boom.

Further, Monopoly's view of jail is outmoded. In Monopoly, jail is punishment. Nowadays, however, we know that jail is a multi-billion dollar industry, a gold mine of rich, trans-fat gravy: a hotel where all the bookings are long term, money's paid up front, and guests keep coming back, regardless of the TripAdvisor review. Who do you think makes more money: Hilton, or Serco? (Rhetorical.)

If "Jail" isn't Mayfair, it's at least Park Lane. (A toss-up against the new square, "Retirement Village".)

Otherwise, replace all the railway stations with four prisons, to honestly reflect New Zealand's priorities when it comes to public transport versus incarceration.

And what about the Treaty? Seabed and foreshore. The entire board needs to float in a tray of water, so the coastline isn't forgotten.

New Chance cards will include: "Flip on the Same Day"; and "Your Buyer is a Money Launderer: Collect 40% Above Market Value." There will also be a "What School Did You Go To?" card, which makes all your dice rolls double in value, as if you attended that high-decile school near Mayfair. (New square.) There will also be a "Race Card", which influences whether you "Go To Jail".

Think how unrealistic the rules are at present. At the start, every player has equal money, and nobody owns anything. Hilarious. What planet is that?

Honest Monopoly would start like this: players draw two cards: one, to work out what generation they belong to; and two, to say how rich their parents are.

Say you draw the Baby Boomer card: you start the game already owning property. Lots of property. In a trust. But if you draw the Millennial card, you own nothing except a smartphone; plus, your starting bank is too meagre to afford anything, except Takeaway Coffee (another new square). Indeed, you have special dice, with only the numbers 1 and 2, to make it much, much further to Pass Go.

But don't despair. Community Chest has a new card: "You Win A Year's Supply of Smashed Avocado on Ciabatta." Now you can save up a deposit.

- NZ Herald

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