It’s your turn. You pick up the dice, give them a shake, and then toss them on the table. Will you be able to roll high enough to make it past Park Place and Boardwalk so you can avoid landing on your opponent’s property and paying rent? It’s a seven–PHEW! You land on GO and collect your $200. surviving another run around the board. Now, to sit here and wait until it’s your turn again to see what happens next.
Monopoly is a last-player-standing type of game. Only when all the other players have gone bankrupt and been eliminated from the game is the game won. This is a common win condition in games. The question is, what’s a player supposed to do when they are out? Are they expected to stay at the table and watch? That can be especially boring for the first few players who are eliminated.
For some players, randomness can feel like a feature. It’s exciting to roll dice and draw random cards. And perhaps this is why Monopoly is such a well-loved game by casual gamers and families. The randomness makes it possible for the inexperienced child to beat the seasoned adult because the dice fell the child’s way. The problem is, these positions can easily be reversed, and too often it feels like the game plays the players rather than the other way around.
The point of this series isn’t to focus on Monopoly, however. Instead, I want us to look critically at the types of games that we play at camp, and, using Monopoly as an example of what not to do, offer some suggestions when planning and leading group games.