Hmm...I wasn't planning on writing a sequel to this earlier blog, but today I've read something that baffles me. There's a new version of monopoly coming out that manages to get EVEN WORSE than it's predecessor. And not a slight bit worse...it's as if the makers deliberately intended it to be a game that would infuse more hatred than, say, a game of Diplomacy(1)
I'm talking about Ms Monopoly. From news reports, it has three main differences:
1. instead of the iconic monopoly man, it features his niece as the game's mascot
2. as with many themed versions, this one has you competing for inventions made by women, like the bulletproof vest, wifi and the dishwasher
3. women start out with more money and earn more whenever they pass 'go' (in fact, the subtitle for this monopoly is "the first game where women make more than men")
*sigh* This is just...bad. It's almost beyond words bad. Let's tackle this one by one.
The first piece is, of course, okay. Plenty of monopoly versions feature different people showcasing the board.
The second part would have been fine if it were true. But unfortunately, it isn't. A quick google easily shows that the first bulletproof vest was made by a Polish engineer. Yes, Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, but while popular, it's not the only kind of vest. Same for wifi: as with most technological advancements it's hard to pinpoint one single inventor. It doesn't really cater to women that I can't even find a credited women in the bunch of men generally credited for the technology, but even if so: this stuff will cause more controversy than it's worth. Heck...I'd even say it's an incredible detriment to women that a game catering to them can't even find enough inventions that are obviously invented by women (like the dishwasher).
...but even so: it's the third part that isn't just bad game design: it's TERRIBLE game design. I dare you to find one even semi-successful board game where players are given an advantage purely based on their appearance. Can you imagine a game where white people start out with, and earn more than, black people? Of course not. Not only is it terribly racist (which is a huge-ass reason), but it goes against the principle of a game as well. Black people wouldn't want to play it, and white people wouldn't feel very challenged either.
This is exactly the same thing. I've heard women complain and complain about them earning less than men, but as soon as you take a good look at the statistics ("hey...women do far more parttime jobs in much safer sectors"), human resource departments (women outnumber men hugely...so exactly WHO is discriminating women here?) or even spending behavior (despite "earning less", women spend much more than men) those numbers sink into (near) oblivion. So I'm a critic of those claims(2). But even o, feminists always claim that they want "equal pay for equal work". Nobody ever said that women should earn more than men.
"but wait," I hear some hasbro spokespeople poke in. "this is just to put men in the situation of women. How does it feel to earn less than women?"
Yeah...this is where the discussion gets a bit more grim (or where a fistfight would've started if this wasn't a hypothetical virtual writing). I've got my opponents on my earlier stated opinions, but at the very least they understand that my position is up for debate and arguing. In a board game, this simply isn't there. There is no "...but men earn more paternity leave" in this version. There is no "marry a healthy women and then divorce her for half her fortune" equivalent or a "claim the invention because you brought up the invention's idea in the form of complaining toward a woman" in the game. And it's for the best. Because these sorts of balancing mechanics would only fuel the fires.
Which fires? Why, the war of the sexes, of course. Monopoly's a game for children. I was already against it because games teaches things to them, and the lessons that monopoly taught was more in the line of "if you're there first, you can get an advantage that snowballs into benefits later", "just roll something lucky" and "if you go to jail, it's just because of bad luck". From what I read, these unintentional(3) lessons are still there. But I goddamn GUARANTEE you that you'll have a fight on your hand if you give this game to two or more children when both sexes are present. heck...it's very possible that the whole "war of the sexes" thing is something that doesn't concern them. That they just see other people in terms of their age, and that same-age people are just fun to play with. That'll change as soon as you give one person more starting money than the other: you'll have exactly the same fight on your hands as when you decide to give your favorite child more candy than your "other" child. Heck...chances are high boys will give up before they even start. Girls with good parents won't understand why they get more money, and challenge the people stupid enough to try to explain it to them.
Probably the worst part in this whole thing is that there'll be virtually no opposition to this game hitting the market. Feminists control the narrative on emancipation, so any form of critique can just be dismissed as "coming from a man". We'll be at the mercy of women smart enough to realise that equality doesn't mean "trampling the other into submission", and that correcting wrongs from the past isn't an excuse to delve into the exact same thing.
And just to be clear, I have to make an observation that might seem contradictory at first: games shouldn't be politically correct. I'd say "on the contrary", but it really depends on the game. There are good games where there is inequality (the great dalmuti comes to mind) or where you play as politically incorrect figures (secret Hitler is the obvious choice here). The thing is that they have to be fair. And that's where this monopoly version is going overboard: it's unfair to give one group an advantage both from the start as within the game without them being counterbalanced in any way, especially if those groups are based on characteristics. There's a word for that, and that's discrimination. And that's REALLY something I don't want to see in a game marketed for children.
(1): if there's one board game I'll ever hard pass on, it's diplomacy. I don't mind games where you can backstab people, I don't mind hard, thought provoking games and I don't really mind very long games. Diplomacy apparently combines those three. As a result, I can see it happen very well that I make deals, make sure everyone's got a winning bargain out whatever it is that's at stake in the game...and then be backstabbed for lulz. It's apparently a thing in that game (in one vid, a known board gamer said he'd seen a grown man cry over this game. A second pitched in that it's something that happens with this game. More so: that "I've seen a grown man cry over this" should be Diplomacy's subtitle or main reference.
(2): even more so: the income inequality is IMHO best described as "a mother tax", as women's carreers often nosedive as soon as they get children. But if you compare single moms' and single dads' paychecks, then it's actually the LATTER group who earns the least (which probably explains why that group is, in numbers, smaller than the single moms).
(3): erm...okay: perhaps not unintentional. I've already mentioned last blog that monopoly was built as a critique of actual monopolies. I can't say for sure on what's the deal with that.
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