Searching for the ideal holiday gift for the special millennials in your life? Why not get them a board game that will point out their crippling student loan debt and the unprecedented barriers their generation faces to enter the housing market?
In what is either a product created to pigeonhole an entire generation or a work of satire, Hasbro recently launched Monopoly for Millennials, a spinoff that features the slogan: “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.”
Pictured on the box top and at the center of the game board is Rich Uncle Pennybags dressed in his signature suit and top hat — taking a selfie, holding a coffee and sporting a participation medal.
It differs from the traditional Monopoly in that rather than trying to earn money, players attempt to rack up “experiences,” a nod to the studies that show millennials generally prioritize travel or friendships over material possessions. Experience points are gained by visiting a friend’s couch, vegan bistro, artisanal coffee bar or weeklong meditation retreat. Game pieces include a bicycle, a pair of sunglasses, a camera and a hashtag.
The game isn’t going over well with millennials, that generation born roughly between 1981 and 1996. But it’s getting a warm welcome from older folks who view millennials as vain, spoiled and technology-dependent.
Online conversations about the game seem to be a microcosm. On a Facebook post, one person — presumably not a millennial — commented: “Change the name from Monopoly to I’m a loser with no money. I’m an overprivileged little crybaby who has a beard and can’t change a flat tire or swing a hammer.”
That would be a very long name for a board game. But the suggestion demonstrates how millennial stereotypes anger young people, one of whom fired back: “The only reason we’re in this position is because our parents’ generation ruined everything for us.”
Jason Dorsey, director of the Texas-based Center for Generational Kinetics and a corporate consultant on millennials in the workplace, said while “everybody knows a millennial that fits these stereotypes,” the research doesn’t show that millennials are any lazier or more self-entitled than any other generation.
“The reality is that millennials are the largest generation in the United States workforce,” he said. “For most of our clients, they’re the largest generation of managers. What we’ve uncovered is that millennials are the generation most offended by other millennials at work who act entitled.”
Hasbro has spun off other playful Monopoly editions, including ones aimed at “Fortnite” fans and “cheaters.” But this one is significantly more tongue-in-cheek than those versions.
The game includes Chance cards — “Your cellmate is sick of you vlogging about prison life. Get out of jail free” — and Community Chest cards, including, “Your mom learned how to text! Advance to Go” and “You get a fourth job. Hashtag hustle. Hashtag side gig. Hashtag NoDaysOff.”
A Hasbro spokesperson said in a statement that the product was meant to provide players with “a lighthearted game that allows millennials to take a break from real life and laugh at the relatable experiences and labels that can sometimes be placed on them.”
But plenty of people aren’t laughing.
Studies have shown that a significant portion of millennials, many of whom entered adulthood at the height of the recession, blame baby boomers (born from 1946 through 1964) for policies that exacerbated the housing collapse, student loan debt increases and wealth inequality.
Meanwhile, the younger generation has been blamed for “killing” everything from napkins to marriage.
More trouble ahead?
Some social scientists worry that the two generations are going to have more conflict over the next decade, as public pension and health care resources grow thinner and automation changes how the workforce functions, causing a competition for government support between workers and retirees.
(Few people seem to be talking about the generation sandwiched between the two. Then again, Gen Xers’ hallmark is to be ignored.)
Others say the conflict — real or perceived — between millennials and the baby boomers who raised them is nothing unique.
Dustin Kidd, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia, said that while there are some generational differences as a result of technology and economics, most of the complaints levied against millennials are similar to those made against generations that came before them.
“There has never been an older generation that actively praised young adults for being great workers and communicators,” he said, adding: “The sense that each generation is somehow a fundamentally different kind of human just doesn’t hold true.”