It’s one of the longest running and most popular board games there is: Monopoly. Forget all the countless themed versions based on TV shows and movie franchises, the plain vanilla version has been a staple in American households for nearly a century.
The game came out in 1935, and the focus on a country that had gone from flush to thin was palpable in the wishing and hoping the names evoked. That first generation knew exactly what it meant to “ride on the Reading” or “advance to Boardwalk…” And, though the direct connotations were lost on subsequent generations, those who played understood the value, at least in the game.
What hasn’t stood the test of time, though, are the tokens. They just don’t make as much sense to the modern player. What’s that thimble for? And the boot? Why the wheelbarrow? These are questions that puzzled generations in game rooms and family rooms across the decades. Now, though, those questions, much like the tokens that inspired them, might become relics of the past.
In recent iterations of Monopoly, things have changed. No longer will younger players get stuck with the wheelbarrow, the thimble or the boot. These tokens have been tossed out like that torn up “building fee assessed” card. The switch was instigated by a PR campaign the game’s manufacturer came up with to re-engage an audience enamored with video games. There was a worldwide vote – 146 countries tallied up 4.3 million votes – that gave the three ousted tokens a “thumbs down” and up-voted three new ones: a T-Rex, a penguin and a rubber ducky. No word on how these new tokens might actually correlate to the theme and locations in the game.
Then again, the real-life locations in the game have seen better days as well. The properties for sale in Monopoly take their names from actual streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Once the playground of the rich and fabulous, AC has seen better days. Hotels and casinos are struggling, and property values are headed south. But the motivation to prize the good life they inspired is still alive and well … just like the other classic tokens. Fans of the terrier, battleship, race car, top hat, and cat will be glad to know their choice of piece will still be allowed to pass go, grab properties, and, hopefully, avoid Going to Jail.
In reaching out to fans across the world, Hasbro showed an understanding of the power of the social web in connecting with fans and creating engagement. Likely leading to at least one more generation who will learn the joy of victory and the agony of defeat through the roll of the dice and cutthroat negotiations to make pastel cash change hands.