I have a confession to make.
I am a sucker for playing monopoly and I don’t mean the type of game that lasts a few hours. No. I am talking about the game that lasts days!
That is probably why I haven’t played it now that I am a bit older, because none of my friends have the time or patience to continue a game for days and days with the same enthusiasm and drive to win.
But as a child, I remember endless pursuits of trying to be the last one standing. Often times, when my cousins came to visit for a weekend, I’d challenge them to a game of Monopoly. My house ,my rule right? To me, those endless hours seemed to whizz by unnoticed as my money and properties built up, then, through some silly role of the dice, leave me dry, forcing me to foreclose on properties and start afresh.
What would happen when mum came to tell me it was time for bed? Well after having a hissy fit, I’d make sure to write down everyones position on the board and record everyones amount, and as if saving or pausing the game, we’d leave it as it was to return at a later time.
I remember being such a sore loser, I hated being broke, but I hated losing and quitting even more. In fact I never accepted I was bankrupt till I had nothing left. I had strategies to make sure that I was always one step ahead of the game, or so I thought. At each pass of the Go, I’d put $100 aside. Each time I raised money, I’d put a portion of the earnings aside as retained capital. I made sure all my properties were partially developed (never get to hotel status), I tried to negotiate with the banks for leeway and I was adamant about lending finance to players to keep them in the game when they were broke or wanted to quit. The last point is perhaps the reason why our games lasted so long. I realised that in order for me to accumulate more wealth, there had to be players in the game. For me, the goal was to have the bank go broke before me. That was the thrill!
But what did all that adolescent-money- gaming do to my cognitive development. As a child, we become a product of all the experiences we are exposed to, so what lasting scars did the game of monopoly have on me. Well these are a list of things I believe I have gained from it:
- Unnerving ability to believe that there is always a way out
Despite being claustrophobic, I am a pretty calm person. I know that there is always a way out even if that entails facing up to the issue. I remember games where I would lose everything and then scheme my way back into the game by borrowing from the bank or other players.
- Deep belief in my own ability to control the board (destiny)
It was only when I watched Invictus that the words resonated with me “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul”. One of my truest of truths is that I can change my circumstances whenever I want. We all suffer from something or rather mentally, I am no different but I just can usually pull myself off the scruff of the neck and get on with life. For some reason, Monopoly taught me that the board doesn’t play the same hand twice and a bad role once won’t always lead to a bad role twice. There is always a way out.
- Dealing with having, and not having power
I love power. I like having it, being around it and messing with it. But Monopoly taught me an important lesson in respecting power – be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Learning how to deal with the bankers as money lenders earlier on and showing mercy to those who couldn’t afford to pay you for landing on your highest earning properties was all about courting power. Allowing people to pay me slowly allowed them to be in the game longer, appearing merciful assured me allies and power.
- Highly developed Emotional Intelligence
If I have earned anything, it is the power to be deeply reflective and empathetic. I call it the God Perspective and this was honed with a few other games too but being able to read people and predict what their reaction was going to be was incredibly important to my own survival on the board. Understanding when to take a break when I could sense a tough phase was occurring ensured that I had a game to play that wasn’t wearing everyone out.
- Taking risk and being ok with loss
Children need to learn how to deal take massive financial risks and experience the glories of winning and lossing. Too many people are risk averse, resulting in not much happening. They sit back and take on a life of average because they are afraid of taking big risks and losing. For them, loss is equal to death. For me death is the only loss. I loved Monopoly, I didn’t always win and those were tough. When I was really addicted to it, I remember being furious that I’d lose, but it made me want to play it even more. The thrill of taking risks, knowing I could lose it all at the next round of the board was strangely appealing to my adolescent mind. The thrill of uncertainty still remains with me today. Certainty and comfort makes me bored.
Obviously, there must be a more ways that Monopoly defined me that I have not figured out yet. I highly recommend getting your children, or your friends children, inducted into the world of Monopoly. If anything, they may just learn a bit about themselves.