Updated: Jul 13
Over the past few year’s monopoly has become a favorite pastime for my family, especially for myself and the three kids; my niece Skye(18), my nephew Noah(13) and my daughter Chloe now 8. In the earlier years the game wasn’t much fun because Chloe was too small and couldn’t handle losing so we usually would end the game when she got upset. More recently however, things have become so much more interesting …
We started off with the stock standard monopoly – the one with cash where you needed a banker, the houses are green and hotels are red, not forgetting the infamous community chess and chance cards. Initially either myself or Skye would be banker – we simply had more experience with maths. But soon, we all suspected that Skye was doing some dodgy stuff with the money because she seemed to be doing so much better than everyone else, all the time. So, the two younglings, Noah and Chloe started vying for the position as well.
Before the game would even start, we would be fighting – who should be banker and why? I died with laughter when Chloe through her hat in the ring – she only had grade 2 maths! Bahahaha, it reminds me of the time when Des van Rooyen wanted to be the Finance Minister! Just like Des, Chloe could pay players M$200 every time they would pass begin, but was pretty much useless when it came to anything else. Just like Des, she believed that the banks money was hers – we all died with laughter!
Anyways, over the years I have figured out everyone’s strategies … Noah's strategy was always to put all his eggs in one basket – specifically Clifton and Franschhoek. You know, the two blue properties just before you get to “Begin” – always the most expensive with the highest rentals. Noah's game was always to buy these two properties and load them with houses and hotels … oh! That reminds me, I never explained the rules …
Yes, all four of us never ever read the rules of monopoly and we all had different versions of which rules we would play with. So, after the drama of sorting out the banker, we would have a somewhat democratic discussion about the rules – although it was a very general discussion in which everyone would just pretend that they understood – you know, just like the ANC and DA elective conferences. The point is this though – every game had different rules depending on who won or lost in the previous game. Although I love the way me and kids could compromise rules, its clear to me that rules mean very little when you all seem to get along... reminds me of our political parties during an election year.
Anyway, back to strategies...
So, Noah believed that he simply needed one streak of luck – just one unsuspecting player to land on his property and he would be set for life! Chloe’s strategy was to not spend any money at all. She would hardly ever buy properties and in the rare case when she did, it would be the cheapest ones. Also, she was conservative with houses – just one per property and never ever hotels. Skye would kill me – she was the antithesis of Noah. She would buy everything that she would land on and spend every single cent that she had. My strategy was a mix of the three … to be honest, I just played for as long as my gin and tonic would last.
A few months ago, we were playing and everyone adopted their strategies. My dad (Grandpa) was elected as Banker because I wanted to minimize the corruption. Geez, was I stupid! I now know, categorically, that grandchildren trump “only daughter”. My dad robbed me blind!
But this is not the point of my story. The point is that my Dad played the role of the mediator and judge ... you know, sort of like our justice system. As the game goes on, Skye lands on one of Chloe’s properties and doesn’t have any money to pay the rent. Chloe is adamant – “I WANT MY MONEY!” Skye doesn’t want to leave the game so starts bartering and tries to sell some of her properties to Chloe.
Chloe is adamant; “GIVE ME MY MONEY!” Skye is now begging and making it personal – “But I’m your only girl cousin. I’ll do you hair. I’ll give you a massage…”. Eventually Chloe screams; “Grandpa do something! I WANT MY MONEY!”. Bahahaha my Dad pulls a Mogoeng and asks Skye to decide her own fate! Sweet baby Jesus! Chloe starts crying; “I thought I was your favorite and now you’re taking Skye's side!” Snot and tranne and runs up to her room.
Skye obviously puts forward a ‘solution’ to sell her cheapest property for double its value. Now my Dad is stuck. His only two granddaughters are at ends with each other and he doesn’t know what to do. So, what does my Dad do? He shouts at Skye for putting forward a crap ‘solution’. Skye won’t relent so my Dad declares the game over, I am the loser and the grand kids all win equally. Again, Sweet Baby Jesus! Now Noah is upset because he is flush with expensive properties and he wants to be declared the winner.
So, just like Cyril, my Dad declares to be tired and goes for a nap murmuring under his breathe as he goes, that he will never ever do this again.
As much as we have played this game tonnes of times in the past, I can not truly tell you who wins or not, because this is what always happens. There is some fight and the game is declared over. We then proceed to fight over texts for the next few months, arguing who really won and lost. We never conclude. We just keep doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that this time, it will be different – you know, just like South Africans voting for the ANC and the ANC still believing that they are the solution to this Country.
Anyways, I got tired of this shit and decided to spice things up this past Easter weekend. Prior to the family descending on my place, I got the “Monopoly – ultimate banking” edition. The kids were ecstatic whilst my Dad swore silently under his breathe and went straight to bed.
My decision to get this game can be viewed as a Cabinet reshuffle whereby I am the President. I replaced the Banker aka Finance Minister with a bullet proof system (some computer thingy), normalized the prices of houses, rents and regulated the rate at which they could increase. Most importantly, all the rules changed! They were no more community chess and chance cards – just “life cards” and since I bought the game, I became a dictator – I gave everyone an hour to read these rules and then I tested them on it. Only after I did my best to get us on the same page, we began a new era ….
This version changes things dramatically. Each player gets a credit card and all financial rules are determined by this computer thingy. As soon as one player is bankrupt, the entire game ends and this computer thingy determines the winner based on their cash and property values. So, in other words – all corruption is rooted out.
I thought that everyone would be happy – we didn’t need Grandpa to mediate anymore, there were no fights about who is banker and the rules were embedded into this computer thingy.
The first few games went well. If I recall correctly, I think I won – I adopted my normal strategy. Noah was second, Chloe third and Skye was bankrupt first. We carried on playing until some time on late on Sunday afternoon. Noah did his usual – he bought up the blue properties and filled them with whatever properties he could. I landed on the life cards and my card stated that I could swap anyone of my properties with any other player (Yes, the EFF placed this card in the pack). Naturally, I took my lowest value property and swapped it for one of Noah's. My portfolio increased so much, that everyone declared me the winner and the game over. So much for a game!
Whilst we were busy packing up, I asked the kids which monopoly they prefer. They agreed in unison – the original one because “we all know the rules”. Bahahaha, can you believe that?
I can’t stop laughing whilst writing this!
If my family was a representation of society, they would choose the game with rules that are loosely defined and understood and has almost no controls in place apart from player integrity which becomes very questionable when playing this game. They have opted for the game in which corruption can thrive. I understand their choice because the old is more familiar. I wonder if in time, they will change… one thing is for sure, the fights are less with new game.
I wonder if this is perhaps the reason why the ruling party has not effected the change that this country desperately needs … have too many of our politicians lost themselves in the old way of playing the game ….? How strong is the force that keeps people in familiar?
For me, I am going to start at home and force the newer version of the game. As a family, if we need to fight to create memories and laughs, there is always UNO 😉