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What Monopoly taught me about economics

By mirko in Politics
Fri May 01, 2009 at 04:16:31 PM EST
Tags: monopoly, economics, !boobs, traders, wealth, growth, greed hasbronomics (all tags)

My phone is a Palm. I installed the infamous software version of Hasbro's flagship game: Monopoly.
I first happened to find it quite boring.
Then it caught me like whatever flu will make the news next month.
What's it about?
You know the drill: buy property, hope the others will land on it. Collect 200 every time you pass go. Conquer the board, bankrupt the others by raising the rent whenever possible, thus forcing them to mortgage, then quit...
...or so I thought.


In the real world, such a situation is either omnipresent or absolutely improbable.

As a money-maker, you don't hope to win... Not the whole thing anyway, otherwise, they who owe you also belong to your workforce and you'll have reached a nation-like level.

This is not what you want.

What you want is growth.

You achieve growth by ensuring your goods and services keep selling to the masses who still can afford it.

It's the same in a game of Monopoly.
Whenever the game ends, it's finished. You may just count your money, then restart another game from scratch... then worry about Tarbosh (what the fuck is that for a name ?) caus' he's about to buy that yellow card you count on.

So, after some time, I used to win all the games. Then I began focussing on the final wealth. Trying to optimize it, to get it to the highest level possible.

Here's what that game taught me about economics:


  • Ensure you own some property in most of the board districts, so that you can block your opponents.

  • Stations and utilities won't make you rich. Never. But there's always someone who'd swap some of these for the last of that color that you're after.
    You always need to know of the carrot in your arsenal: the special stuff that even the richest, the most powerful is after. In the real word, this'd be drug, a piece of ass, a finely crafted antique collector, or whatever someone might unrationally see as a must-own.

  • Play at most against 2 significant opponents, if there are more, find a way to take these out of business, otherwise, because of the granularity of properties distribution, you risk never to be able to make it to the next point.

  • Focus on at least one district. It could be any, except the first, dark blue one (more an annoyance to the competition than anything else).

  • Mortgage anything else if you have to, but build there. The rent should be at most a third of what you opponent currently own.

  • Be patient. In most cases, it will take around 6 rounds until your opponent begin to lack of money. Good.

  • Bankrupt your opponents until you own more than half of the board. The easiest to bankrupt are the ones that bought the most property: there's no way rent collection will have made  them enough money to compensate these acquisition, especially when they traded some of their most valuable for a station and/or the water utility. That's also the reason you mortgaged some of your properties, remember?

  • Unmortgage your property, it's time to milk your victims: build. But remember: this has to last. From there you may adopt one of the following strategies:

    1. Accept some of their trades: let them have one color with hotels. But just one: you can restrict yourself, they cannot: they WANT, they even NEED to win. So, let them be greedy, but not dangerously.

    2. Refuse all of their trades. Prevent them from building. Build enough houses around so that their wealth won't increase after a round through your buildings. They may however still make a little money so that the game last.


  • This game has however one huge difference with reality, or maybe it's a similarity but here it is: everybody collects his salary, unless he's in jail, and even in that case, he might still perceive the rent you'll HAVE to pay when on his property. This infinite supply of money, 200$ at a time per player, is the growth you should target. There's not anymore, so either you make them believe there's more in order to steal them what they have, and then you're one of these rogue traders, or you can -very confortably- live with that.

  • A word about the Free Parking option: IRL, it would be some government contracts. In the software, you either decide to exploit this or not. Let's say that it might bring more wealth to the game, which is not bad. But it does so at the expense of realism: I'd personally love to get rid of the 200$ salary if I were to follow the Free Parking rule.

Sceptical?
Think about this everytime you hear about ANY economics-related fact in "teh nuz"... then come again.

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My personal world domination plan
o take the red pill 0%
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o create the fight club 4%
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o buy and sell virtual shit 14%
o become immortal, then buy the world one thing at a time 23%
o play the stock market 0%
o get rich stealing shit, then become legitimate 14%
o enter politics 9%
o be a lawyer 0%
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o seduce a Saudi princess 0%
o Hollywood 4%
o deal drugs 0%
o WIPO 0%

Votes: 21
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What Monopoly taught me about economics | 31 comments (27 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
I have never been able to understand... (1.50 / 2) (#3)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:44:36 PM EST

... why a GDP growth rate that's any faster than the population growth rate is required for a nation to prosper.

My family had things pretty good back in the '70s: my parents owned all the homes we lived in, my sister and I went to good schools, my Dad like his jobs and my Mom didn't have to take a job, and so was able to stay home and look after us kids.

All that was well before the microcomputer revolution, just to name a single factor in the phenomenal growth that has occurred since then.

And yet I don't see many people being better off these days. Most families need two wage earners now, not just one.

Why is that the case?

Given all the increases in productivity that have occurred since the 70s, I'd expect us all to be driving flying cars by now, and vacationing on the Moon.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


GDP growth higher than population growth (1.50 / 2) (#4)
by sholden on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:17:00 PM EST

means the powers that be can skim more off the top without the greater population feeling poorer than the previous generation.

Helps reduce those messy riots and revolutions.

--
The world's dullest web page


[ Parent ]
Distribution of wealth, obviously. (1.50 / 2) (#5)
by Pentashagon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:32:19 PM EST

The rich own more of the total wealth than they did 50 years ago.

Why does the GDP have to grow faster than the population?  Science and technology.

In the 70's, you died from things like cancer, heart disease, and AIDS.  Now you don't have to die (as quickly), which requires either that only a few people get advanced medical treatment or that the GDP grows much faster than the population.

[ Parent ]

AIDS in thew 70's?$ (none / 1) (#8)
by mirko on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:37:03 PM EST


--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
Just because the U.S. didn't name it until 1981 (none / 1) (#9)
by Pentashagon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:45:52 PM EST

doesn't mean it didn't exist.

[ Parent ]
simple answer (2.00 / 3) (#19)
by khallow on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:58:03 AM EST

I have never been able to understand why a GDP growth rate that's any faster than the population growth rate is required for a nation to prosper.

Otherwise, the wealth (actually wealth production, but the two are closely related) of the average citizen decreases with time.

And yet I don't see many people being better off these days. Most families need two wage earners now, not just one.

Why is that the case?

Owning a home in the best parts of the US is an arms race. The winners, such as they are, are the people who are willing to make and devote more of their income to paying off a house loan.

It's worth noting that home ownership grew dramatically from the 40's till recently. It probably represents a factor of 3 or 4 growth in home ownership. For early home owners, like your parents, Michael, they'd reap great rewards from rapid appreciation of any home they owned. New home owners in the recent past were buying at a 60 year peak in house prices.

Given all the increases in productivity that have occurred since the 70s, I'd expect us all to be driving flying cars by now, and vacationing on the Moon.

To be blunt, flying cars were never realistic. How would you manage traffic control in New York City with millions of flying vehicles? Just doesn't make sense.

As for vacationing on the Moon, I think NASA sucked a lot of life out of the space industry for many decades. It's only recently that NASA has decided to join the rest of the US and support private activities in space.

I think if the US had a coherent and practical program in place to support commercial activities in space, we'd have some degree of orbital space tourism now (well more than the Russian trips to the ISS). Maybe even some tourists orbiting the Moon. Space tourists on the Moon would still need infrastructure on the Moon. It's not clear to me how hard that would be. Maybe we'll know in another 30 years.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Eventually the bank runs out of money $ (none / 1) (#6)
by Pentashagon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:32:50 PM EST



Not in software...or if it's a CIA Ponzi scheme$ (none / 1) (#7)
by mirko on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:36:14 PM EST


--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
Say hello to MAX_INT $ (none / 1) (#10)
by Pentashagon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:47:20 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (none / 1) (#11)
by mirko on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 03:54:15 PM EST

I guess it's evolving so slowly that my Palm will die off the 2038 int-wrapping bug before...
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
A reason to code for 64-bit platforms. $ (none / 1) (#12)
by Nimey on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 04:25:46 PM EST


--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]
What's Your Take On The Y10K Problem? $ (none / 1) (#15)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:08:49 PM EST


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Get one of these: (1.50 / 2) (#28)
by claes on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:32:29 PM EST

Clock of the Long Now

[ Parent ]
You can always tell a Monopoly novice (2.40 / 5) (#13)
by Harry B Otch on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 08:27:39 PM EST

because they like to scheme with the utilities.  And like you mentioned, utilities are futilities; just a bunch of liabilities with no groove-abilities.  Same goes for all the railroads.  Railroads?--more like fail-roads.

Another mark of a Monopoly punk-ass amateur is the obsession with getting Boardwalk and Park Place, simply because they're the most expensive, and thus confer an imaginary grandiosity.  It's the same reason why you see douchebags driving around in huge-ass Cadillac and Beemer SUVs--it's the naive chump's unshakable belief that bigger is better.

The truth is, you can win if you can successfully control any of the middle-of-the road properties, like Marvin Gardens and shit, and build hotels on them.  People like to fuck in hotels.

-----
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Stations (none / 1) (#17)
by mirko on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:17:27 AM EST

...these come handy once you control the opponents: 200 at a time with a nice probabiity: annoying for 'em, yet juicy for you.
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
God, you're such moron (1.00 / 9) (#14)
by Korean Loller Blader on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 08:47:08 PM EST

I'll bet you are poor and fat, too. This story gives it all away.
D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_
u just lost ur bet. go back to Pyong Yang, now$ (none / 1) (#16)
by mirko on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:15:39 AM EST


--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
The first district... (none / 1) (#18)
by mirko on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:37:44 AM EST

...is not so much of an annoyance in the French version of the game: it indeed has a "chance" card which makes the player roll back to the first property, thus making it more probable to land there...
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
i gave it a +1 fp (none / 1) (#21)
by totmacher on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:33:00 AM EST

but what the fuck does it have to do with economics? you talk about playing the game, not extracting any useful knowledge. why don't you change your title to "how i learned to play monopoly" "

-- I'll sum it up for yo: You = Douche bag ~ Butthurtapotamus
just find who's got an hotel on Park Place IRL$ (none / 1) (#22)
by mirko on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:37:51 AM EST


--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
learn something about how money is created (1.00 / 3) (#24)
by Del Griffith on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:04:20 AM EST

then you will learn pretty dammed quick, the goal is to own it all.

-------
I...I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. Because I'm the real article. What you see is what you get. - Me


Not really to "own" it all... (none / 1) (#25)
by mirko on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:15:28 AM EST

To "own it all" implies there's a limited supply of it. Even though it's right, you want people to think otherwise, then to keep investing while inflation increases so that they don't see that the raise is neither geometrical nor arithmetical but rather asymptotical.

Look at the Rothschilds: they <a href="http://www.syti.net/GB/SilentWeaponsGB.html">understood</a> how the goal was to control its issue by governments, not to limit its availability by owning it itself.

You want to park your opponent in order to reduct their possibilities, then to milk them for as long as it is possible: it's like a return to feodality.
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]

howcome your link is busted? (1.00 / 3) (#26)
by Del Griffith on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:49:08 AM EST

also fractional reserve banking ensures that they own it all, as the only way to service debit is to create more......

-------
I...I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. Because I'm the real article. What you see is what you get. - Me


[ Parent ]

yes: how come? :( $ (2.00 / 3) (#27)
by mirko on Fri May 01, 2009 at 09:11:50 AM EST

http://www.syti.net/GB/SilentWeaponsGB.html
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
The Free Parking is not actually an option. (1.50 / 2) (#29)
by Korean Loller Blader on Fri May 01, 2009 at 04:17:41 PM EST

Unless they've changed it in the last few years, Free Parking is literally that: nothing happens. The money from the middle that you get is some weird innovation that everyone uses, but does not exist in the rules. The game is more fun without it.
D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_
monopoly teaches you... (1.50 / 2) (#30)
by mikelist on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:10:57 AM EST

...how to play monopoly. the econiomics lessons you inferred are not completely applicable irl.
squashing everyone like a bug isn't something you want to have obvious plans for, you are not playing with a limited group of competitors.

you might learn how to be a completely amoral greedhead that wants to punish everyone who isn't you, but like i said, your competitors are not a small group sitting at the table.

the fact that you can quit and go back to irl makes the comparisons to world economy about as accurately as a fifteen second waterboarding accurately shows what it's like for interrogation subjects.

you assume waaaaay too much.  

who's irl (none / 0) (#31)
by Ruston Rustov on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:20:04 AM EST


I had had incurable open sores all over my feet for sixteen years. The doctors were powerless to do anything about it. I told my psychiatrist that they were psychosomatic Stigmata - the Stigmata are the wounds Jesus suffered when he was nailed to the cross. Three days later all my sores were gone. -- Michael Crawford
Maybe tomorrow. -- Michael Crawford
As soon as she has her first period, fuck your daughter. -- localroger

[ Parent ]
What Monopoly taught me about economics | 31 comments (27 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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