Monopolizing Monopoly: Times Square Is New Boardwalk - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Monopolizing Monopoly: Times Square Is New Boardwalk

In the new version of Monopoly, to advance to "Go" you'll have to traverse an all-new game board. In the new version of Monopoly, to advance to "Go" you'll have to traverse an all-new game board.
For generations of Monopoly players, Boardwalk was the place to be, at least if you could afford to buy the property, erect a few houses or a hotel, and mortgage friends and family members into bankruptcy. Starting today, you may have to set up shop in Times Square.

The newly unveiled "Here and Now" edition of Monopoly, which hits stores Thursday, represents the biggest changes ever for the game, which has sold more than 250 million copies in 80 countries and been translated into 26 languages.

Hasbro is rolling the dice on the 71-year-old game as the company recasts the famous board with properties coming from 22 cities across the United States - Atlantic City's monopoly of the Monopoly names has been broken up like the once mighty AT&T.

How Will I Recognize My Old Favorites?

Times Square is the new Boardwalk. Fenway Park is the new Park Place. What would Yankee fans have to say about that one? New York gets Times Square, but the House That Ruth Built is not even mentioned.

The placements on the board were decided democratically through a tally of votes. "We had 8.5 million votes coming into our Web site," said Pat Riso, spokesperson for Hasbro Games. "New York City got more votes than any other individual city, and they got Boardwalk."

Long-suffering Cleveland Indians fans will find further insult to their injuries when they see Jacobs Field is one of the two lowest-rent "purple properties." First, the river caught on fire, then it was really miserably cold there in the winter. Next, the Browns left and came back. Hasn't Cleveland been through enough already?

"Cleveland's on the board, so that's a good thing," said Riso. "We've gotten calls from cities that aren't on the board, so they should be pretty happy about that."

Once you open this new Monopoly box, get ready for a surprise. Most of the game pieces on the board have been cleverly replaced and updated with some well-known brands.

"When we decided we were going to create a new game, we asked ourselves 'What would the Monopoly game look like if it was created today?'" said Riso. "We made a list of those companies whose products are extremely relevant in the here and now."

The fast race-car playing piece of yesteryear has been made environmentally friendly with a Toyota Pruis Hybrid. For those of you who liked the shoe, you've been upgraded to a NewBalance running shoe. You can even be McDonald's fries or a Motorola Razr.

Those players who don't wish to advertise a brand during the game are left with an unsponsered laptop computer piece or a Labradoodle. Is that dog even a brand?

So, what's stayed the same with the new Monopoly? You can still go to jail, and no one can ever escape taxes. But since Monopoly is still about fun, the creators were nice enough to keep Free Parking. Of course, life is still full of chances, so the red Chance cards will be there, as well as the Community Chest cards.

GO looks the same, but $200 is a mere penance these days - you get $2 million when you pass GO. Also, in what appears to be a sign of the times for Amtrak, the likes of Reading Railroad and B&O have been swept aside by modern international airports like Atlanta's Hartsfield and Chicago's O'Hare.

It's almost guaranteed that the new pecking order of Monopoly's real estate will set off parochial bickering.

"I think you can rest assured that some people are going to be very happy, and others might be pretty unhappy," said Phil Orbanes, author of "Game Markers: The Story of Parker Brothers," published by the Harvard Business School Press.

It's fairly well-known by gamesters that, over the last 15 years, custom editions of Monopoly have hit stores, giving rise to Elvis-opoly, Simpsons-opoly, even Dog-opoly. But the new changes will, for the first time, alter the face of the classic version of what has become the best-selling board game ever patented.

"This is a little different than some of those other editions," said Riso. "It's the first time Americans have voted on what's going to be on the game board, so it's literally the game board that America created."

If you're looking for a good trivia question: What's the only patented board game since 1935 to outsell Monopoly in a given year? The answer, of course, is Trivial Pursuit, which sold an amazing 20 million copies in 1981.

But in almost any other year, Monopoly has looked down upon the rest of the gaming world from a posh hotel on Park Place.

Nevertheless, these are troubled times in toyland, especially for gamemakers, who have to compete with video games, the Internet, and other new forms of entertainment.

Earlier this year, a new British version of Monopoly hit stores with the most radical change ever - no play money. In this game, players receive debit cards, and their net worth is tallied by a computerized bank.

"In these busy times, we don't have the time to invest that many board games require, so you're bound to see some changes," said Orbanes.

Atlantic City Swept Off the Board

When Hasbro announced that it would rename the Monopoly properties, Atlantic City officials drafted an official protest, but more than 3 million Internet users logged on to the company Web site to suggest the new locales, from Minneapolis's Mall of America to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

A spot on the Monopoly board is a sort of fame. Monopoly players know Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues as the two least-valuable properties. But several years ago, residents of these Atlantic City streets used their notoriety as Monopoly namesakes to thwart an initiative to change their names.

"The most important thing to remember is that the classic Monopoly game is not going anywhere, but we did actually start a great dialogue with Atlantic City," said Riso.

While losing all of its real estate on the face of the Here and Now board, Atlantic City will still find representation on a single Community Chest card that reads: "Win big at the casinos in Atlantic City, Collect $1 Million."


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