Full Contact Monopoly

What is Canadian Thanksgiving really about?  Definitely, it is time for family, turkey, leaves turning colour, and a chance to prove your prowess at some game with all your family members.  It is a time to bond, argue, laugh, and pester.  It all sounds so wonderful.

In past years, we’ve played pool, street hockey, video games, DVD board games and a variety of more traditional board games.  My older sister prefers the aforementioned DVD board games because she has good voice projection and can win the shout out questions.  I usually put in a decent showing at this game, but pay the price with a wicked headache later.  Traditional board games usually mean the Canadian invented Trivial Pursuit.  I favour the 80’s version, while my father favours the classic.  I think this is because he has memorized all the cards.

Yesterday (we celebrated early to accommodate family schedules) we engaged in what came to be known as “Full Contact Monopoly”.  We considered calling it Texas Death Match Monopoly, but since wrestling has fallen off the family radar in favour of MMA, it the name didn’t really work.

The name might imply violence, but that isn’t what happened.  There was no violence, very little yelling, and due to the length of the game, no clear winner (though I will contend that I was in the best position to win).  Full Contact Monopoly is meant to convey the complex house rules and multi-stage negotiations that took place.  (And, just to clarify, though we did have a copy of the official Monopoly rulebook, we pretty much through it out the window–and were very aware of the fact that we were not playing by tournament rules)  To get the sense of it I need to cite some examples:


  • I negotiated to get 40% of the pot if one player landed on the free parking and captured the bonus pile of money.
  • Several people negotiated free passes if landing on properties.  They did not have to pay rent if they landed there before the owner improved the property to a hotel.
  • One player negotiated the sale of all his properties to another player in exchange for 15% of all future revenue, provided that the receiver of the property paid all bills and fines for the first player–most people would let this person leave the game to tend the turkey, but of course we didn’t.  We made the second person continue to roll and pay bills for that person.  Was that fair?  Probably not, but neither was the first transaction.
  • At one point, I proposed to exchange properties with another player and threw in a nickname change to sweeten the pot–he decided to keep the nickname and the deal fell through.
  • On the verge of elimination, one player negotiated a loan in exchange for cooking dinner the next week.


My father said we weren’t playing monopoly, but just talking.  I can’t say that he was wrong.  In between mouthfuls of pumpkin pie, and turkey, and both foot ball and baseball games on TV, I think I only made it around the board 6 times (maybe less) but managed to acquire 15 properties.  I got to hang out with the family, and laugh a whole lot.  The game didn’t get finished, but does it really ever end? 


I was walking through the toy store today, absently scanning the board game aisle (before my most important walk through the Lego aisle) Although it is by no means new,  I took a few minutes to check out the electronic banking Monopoly. 

I get it.  We live in the modern world with internet banking and debit cards. and these trends should be carried over to our games.  We have had computer versions of Monopoly for so long that I don’t remember it not existing.  We have had millions of versions of Monopoly so what is one more.  If you don’t like electronic banking Monopoly, you can still buy the classic version (at a probably cheaper price)

I guess I just wonder if we have lost something,  I just wonder if the fundamental element of Monopoly has been undermined.

I always thought that Monopoly taught children about budgeting, and handling money.  I know this thought was reinforced in a now famous episode of the Cosby Show when Theo learns that he won’t have enough money to live if he doesn’t graduate high school and go to college.  It was further reinforced in a classic episode of Cheers where Woody is taught about business.  He lies, cheats, and steals–Frasier remarks that he has indeed learned all about business.

Electronic banking will teach kids about electronic banking, but it won’t teach them to add, or subtract.  Maybe those skills are overrated…..maybe.

Then there are the intangibles.  Holding a stack of Monopoly money while peering down at your opponent who has a meagre pile of mostly $10 and $5 bills is probably more gratifying than peering at the LCD screen to see their balance.  Handing over, or being handed over a pile of cash after someone lands on Pacific Ave (complete with a hotel) sure beats a simple electronic transfer.  Grudgingly paying your get out of jail fine because couldn’t (or couldn’t be bothered to) roll doubles certainly makes it clear–“don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

I guess this version will appeal to lots of people, but it just isn’t my Monopoly.