In a heated game of Monopoly, there always has been a certain gravitas in being the banker, the player who keeps a close eye on the money and ensures everyone plays by the rules. Without the banker, cheating would be almost inevitable.
But what if cheating were the whole point of the game? That's the case in a new version of Monopoly, the Cheater's Edition, that Hasbro will release in the fall.
The Cheaters Edition will include the rules of classic Monopoly — except it will encourage players to break them. In addition to the community chest and chance cards, this version will include 15 cheat cards. They will encourage players to cheat in various ways, from collecting rent on another player's property or stealing money from the bank.
That last one shouldn't be too difficult because "for the first time in Monopoly history, there is no designated banker," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Hasbro gaming said. "Players are in control of the bank on their turn, and pass it to the next player when their turn is over, making it easier to pull off 'cheats.' "
Much like in the original version, a player wins by collecting the most money.
There are many versions of Monopoly, most created to attract fans of one thing or another. Those who loved "The Force Awakens" might buy the "Star Wars Edition," for example. But these versions still expect players to follow the rules, making the Cheaters Edition one of the more radical spinoffs.
The decision to introduce it came after a company-sponsored survey found that "nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games," Berkowitz reported, adding, "so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along — a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating."
The Cheaters Edition might seem to some like a cynical perversion of a beloved board game, but it's important to note that Monopoly itself has long been misunderstood.
When the precursor to Monopoly — called the Landlord's Game — was originated by Lizzie Magie in 1904 its purpose was to serve as a criticism of wealth disparity. According to author Mary Pilon, who wrote a book about Monopoly called "The Monopolists," Magie's "stated goal was to demonstrate the evils of accruing vast sums of wealth at the expense of others."
Magie reportedly took particular issue with oil and railroad monopolists — both of which appear in the game.
"In a short time, I hope a very short time, men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with," she told a reporter in 1906, according to Pilon.
Monopoly's satiric message was lost along the way as players battle to control Park Place. Perhaps the Cheaters Edition might finally give them pause.