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Archive for November 30th, 2008

[Educashun] Real-life Monopoly Game Mod

Posted by Lex Fear on November 30, 2008

A recent post by Stef has gotten me seriously thinking about the game of Monopoly and how it relates to our current, completely unforeseen, crunchy, global, it-was-all-Americas-fault, financial crisis.

Monopoly has always been one of my favourite games but ever since I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in 2002 (yeah I know people say it’s too anecdotal), I’ve wondered about how to make it more real life.. I mean it’s a potential teaching tool since all the basics are there but when you really think about it, getting money is just too easy.. I mean the bank is just giving it away and it doesn’t ask for it back, and if you’re playing alternative rules, the city doesn’t charge you for parking, instead it gives you a tax windfall.

So I’ve thought of a bunch of ‘real-life’ mods to introduce to a game of Monopoly:

  • All players start with £20, the banker starts with £10,000 which is used to provide mortgages.
  • “Go” symbolises a payday, but you get a wage relative to the price of streets – £20 therefore..
  • In order to buy a street, you need to take out a mortgage. An interest rate is agreed with the bank each time eg. 5%. (players can also take a mortgage to purchase from each other).
  • A mortgage term is agreed over the number of times you pass “Go”, eg. You take out a mortgage on a Train Station for £199.50 (£10 deposit, £190 + 5% interest) over 5 “Go’s”, your mortgage payment will be £39.90 per passing of “Go”.
  • The banker is a player himself but does not take turns to throw the dice and cannot own property. Instead the objective of the banker is to make the most profit out of the game – this means making more money than the last man standing.
  • The banker does not have a wage but is funded by the central bank/government. The banker instead keeps money made from interest on mortgages and other transactions.
  • The banker keeps a seperate account for himself and one for the central bank/government/fund or whatever that wages are paid from.
  • The banker negotiates all mortgages and rates. On taking out a mortgage it is up to the banker to determine whether you are able to afford the payments (by whatever means). The risk for the borrower is losing the the property, the risk for the banker is losing money to a bankruptcy.
  • If an borrower cannot afford to pay the mortgage on thier turn, the banker can decide to repossess at any time until payments are caught up.
  • If the banker forces a repossession, the property must immediately go up for auction, and the banker keeps any money generated from the auction. If a mortgage is needed then this is negotiated as per usual with the bank.
  • In the event of a bankruptcy, the bank recovers all property for auction (and keeps the profits generated), liquid assets are devided between the creditors.
  • There is no such thing as free parking, if you land on the square marked “free parking” then you must pay £6 within 12 squares (by the time you get to Oxford Street), if you don’t pay then the fine rises to £24, if you then don’t pay by the time you pass “Go”, the fine becomes £48 and the banker may optionally increase your interest rates on your mortgage (the fine remains outstanding during this time and must still be paid off) or throw you in jail and cancel the fine.
  • All the train stations and utility companies are privatised and therefore when a player lands on a privatised train station or utility company, the owner also gets a matching payout from the government/central fund. Train station and utiltity company owners are allowed to raise their rates in line with interest rate set by the banker.
  • Rent and sale prices are set individually by property owners.
  • If a player cannot afford to pay rent, they can choose to forfeit a turn of the dice and the banker may also increase the interest rate on their mortgage.
  • The banker must keep the interest rate on any mortgage for the life of the mortgage unless the borrower falls into debt. The banker can only increase the interest rate in the following circumstances: The borrower fails to pay rent, the borrower fails to pay a fine, tax, train station or utility company. The banker keeps the money from the increase.
  • Creditors can optionally wipe out any debt owed (depriving the banker of an interest rate increase).

I have no idea if these rules would work practically, however they would certainly change the game in favour of the banker, the station and utility company owners, thus better reflecting real life. Of course if you wanted to make it more realistic, you could allow the banker to repackage debt and sell it as financial products to other players. You could sell the properties for full price but call it “shared ownership” and allow the government to charge half rent everytime the owner lands on it. The banker could act as Estate Agent and issue ‘valuations’ on each property when a player comes to sell and taking a cut of each sale as well as issuing the mortgages. Finally, if the banker ever runs out of money then the central fund could be used to ‘bail-out’ the banker.

I realise that contrary to the usual game mods, mine could actually make the game of Monopoly more boring, and would be very difficult to introduce to people not so interested in the details of how supply and demand works.. which just goes to show how screwed we really are as a human race. I mean, if.. IF our current former-Chancellor turned Great Leader Gordon Brown could not see the “credit crunch” coming, then just what was he doing for the past 11 years as head of the UK’s economy? Perhaps he really meant “No. More boom and Bust!”

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