Oct 16, 2007

A tad askew

by Will Mayer





    As I was watching television and chowing down on a bowl of Dora the Explorer themed SpaghettiOs this past week, I saw a commercial that caused me to drop my spoon directly into the sea of pasta pieces shaped like Dora and her cartoon companions. This commercial introduced a product that may mark the impending destruction of civilization as we know it — Monopoly: Electronic Banking edition.
    That’s right, what was once one of the best games for teaching children how to handle money, gobble up real estate and build business empires rivaling that of Donald Trump has now gone paperless.
    The newest version of the game features a debit card. I went to Monopoly’s official Web site to view the demo of this new edition of the Parker Brother’s classic. Instead of moving around the board in simple things like a shoe, thimble, car or battleship, now players are given options like a Louis Vuitton handbag, a plasma TV or one of those Segue personal upright scooters.
    This debit card mentality is dangerous for children because they will learn to be flippant with money. “Rent a house at Park Place for only $900K? Sure, just put it on my card.”
    With credit card debt and mortgage foreclosure rates on the rise, is this strategy of gaming really appropriate for children? Was there something so terrible with dealing with piles of crinkled fake paper money for hours on end, just to get them in the correct channels in the plastic money-holder of the original Monopoly game, only to have it knocked upside-down by the family dog?  Of course not — it built character.
    While the original Monopoly developed business and money savvy, this new, twisted offspring builds identity thieves. When Mom gets up to grab another ice cold Liberty Mountain Spring Water, little Karl will be learning all about how to use someone else’s debit card for his own personal gain.
    This game is not the only step that the Parker Brothers are taking toward building debtors and thieves. There is an option online that corrupts even the original Monopoly game: money printing.
    Indeed, add counterfeiting to the list of deviant practices encouraged by the new age of Monopoly. “Short on Monopoly game cash? Be as rich as you want to be and print your own money!” the Web site boasts. They even offer PDFs available for download to save you the trouble of finding a scanner capable of acquiring the fine detail visible in the train-emblem watermark in of the top right corner of the bills.
    Parents and concerned citizens can only hope that Milton Bradley will not go the same route with their classic game Candy Land (though reprises to the original have already been made with Winnie the Pooh and Dora the Explorer editions). With some luck, Candy Land will not pursue Hollywood trends like glorifying violence and drug use by renaming the Candy Cane Forest to the Columbian Cartel Copse.
    A serious warning, though— next time you are playing Monopoly and someone offers you a $500 Monopoly bill, hold it up to the light and make sure you can view Mr. Monopoly inside the train watermark.
Contact Will Mayer at swmayer@liberty.edu.

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