Board Games for Economic Change
If you’ve played the board game Monopoly. You have probably experienced the heated arguments, flipped boards, and endless playtime that normally comes with it. But what you may not know about Monopoly is these horrible experiences we have, are all part of the game.
When Monopoly was first designed and patented in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie it went by a different name. It was called the Landlord’s Game. And Magie, a follower of economist Henry George and the Law of Rent originally meant for the game to illustrate the consequences of economic privilege.
“The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give.” — Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter XI “Of the Rent of Land”
The game of Monopoly was never supposed to be an enjoyable family pastime. It was supposed to make players angry. We were meant to feel the hardships Magie was trying to teach about first hand. The Landlord’s Game was designed to be a teaching tool showing the error of our economy in an extremely approachable way. And it would have been until 1933 when Parker Brothers purchased the patent and renamed the game Monopoly.
Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives
Co-opoly is a cooperative board game for 3-6 players where everyone wins or loses together. You and your teammates found your own cooperative organization. You must guide your organization through a year of operation facing global challenges and issues from within.
Just like a real-world cooperative, players must make decisions democratically. Each challenge you face must be discussed and decided upon as a committee and ultimately decided the success or failure of your organization.
Sustainably produced by the TESA Collective within the USA, Co-opoly teaches its players the core values of a cooperative organization. Like Monopoly it creates a scenario for its players where they can experience the economic principles it is based on. Monopoly shows the hardship of an unequal economy through its unfair and never-ending gameplay. Co-opoly teaches its players how to (loosely) run a cooperative through team-based gameplay focused around the seven core cooperative principals.
Open and Voluntary Membership
Membership in a cooperative is open to everyone that uses its services and are willing to take on the responsibilities of membership.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations run by their members. These members help set policies and make decisions within the organization. Elected representatives (board of directors) are voted on by the membership and serve the members as a whole.
Members’ Economic Participation
All members of the cooperative are responsible for contributing equity. And democratically control the capital of the organization.
Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are independent organizations controlled by their members.
Education, Training, and Information
The education of members, community leaders, and the general public helps boost cooperative understanding.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
By working together cooperatives improve local economies and better serve social and community needs.
Concern for Community
Cooperatives work towards the development of their communities through the policies supported by their membership.
Co-opoly makes us think about the advantages of working on our local economy together. And the empowerment each of us has in saying how our organizations are run. As challenges arise in the game we share the difficulty and experience it together. It makes it easier to take on the burden and give us the chance to express our different and equal voices. It makes us think about how everyone’s situation is different and we all don’t need the same amount of money but need the same amount of respect.