The documentary The Monopoly Story depicts the world of Monopoly from the perspective of elite international players as they battle for the prestigious World Championship.
Yet while Monopoly presents an enjoyable challenge for a slim minority, for most it is a frustrating and often hate-filled event. Fortunately for people wanting to spend their afternoon feeling needlessly furious, there are literally hundreds of options! Including:
A Chinese variation of Monopoly, Uncle Wang’s creators made minor changes to distance Uncle Wang from the original version. Unfortunately, the designers neglected to keep these changes consistent, resulting in a board that features no ‘Jail’ square but a set of rules that explain what happens if you land on the ‘Jail’ square among other issues. In doing so, they produced an obvious knockoff making a mockery of the otherwise proud Uncle Wang name.
Bass Fishing Monopoly
Sometimes it’s hard to tell why things exist and who thought they were a good idea. Not in this case, however, as bass fishing and board games are a match made in heaven! If anything, it’s weird that the original Monopoly was about buying property and not bass.
In the biblical version of Monopoly, cooperation is key and the objective is to build a church rather than destroy your opponents. It also features ‘Faith’ cards instead of ‘Chance’, with instructions such as ‘Recite John 3:16 or lose one turn’. Originating in the US, the game is perfect for anyone wanting to learn about religion while playing a game that confirms the existence of hell.
Not an exact clone but said to be inspired by Monopoly, Kolejka is a game that replicates life in soviet-era Poland. Released by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance and described as “The world’s most boring game”, Kolejka features standing in queues and shops without any goods to sell. Though deliberately tedious and designed to teach children about communism, it still arguably sounds like an improvement on the original Monopoly.
Released by a company known as The Parker Sisters in the 1980s, Gay Monopoly was dubbed “A celebration of gay life”. It was also dubbed “Severe copyright infringement” by Parker Brothers, then publisher of Monopoly, resulting in a lawsuit and the company going out of business.
Featuring different types of cats to collect and obstacles such as dog tax, Cat-opoly is one of many animal-themed variations alongside Dog-opoly and Horse Lover’s Monopoly. Though the rules are similar to the original game, the true challenge of these versions is finding someone to play with who won’t question your mental wellbeing.
With car-jackings, references to prostitution and playing pieces such as the crack rock, this is where toy maker Hasbro drew the line on official Monopoly licensing. Still, despite allegations of racism and a lawsuit, Ghettopoly has a cult following willing to put morality aside for a game featuring police shakedowns, peep shows and other things that would make Rich Uncle Pennybags wince.
Monopoly For Millennials
A recent release, Monopoly For Millennials features the tagline “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” Accordingly, players collect experiences rather than property, including avocados, vegan food and meditation retreats.
Though some may find it odd to mock those forced into a life without security, the resulting publicity has had the desired effect, with the game selling in large numbers. Unlikely to be bought by millennials themselves, those with lazy uncles and aunties can look forward to unwrapping their copy this Christmas.
It’s all fun and games
The number of licensed Monopoly games now stands at more than 1000, with other notable versions including Metallica Monopoly, John Wayne Monopoly and The Golden Girls Monopoly.
Focusing on the original format of Monopoly, The Monopoly Story is an entertaining and intriguing look at a game we all know played at the highest level of competition.
Profiling players and tournaments from the US, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Norway and New Zealand among others, the documentary highlights Monopoly’s truly global appeal and the rare ability of a board game to bring people together. Admittedly, Monopoly then tears those people apart.
Yet the game remains a beloved classic - and a stirring reminder of what life was like when property was affordable.
The Monopoly Story aired on Tuesday, 18 December at 8.40pm on SBS, and is now available to stream at any time at SBS On Demand.