Hasbro, in an effort to take some of the sting out of capitalism-as-play, has come up with a new version of the classic board game that turns over much of the work—rolling dice, keeping track of cash, monitoring player movements—to a talking, infrared nanny tower that sits in the middle of the board.
How does it work, and what can it do that the classic Monopoly can’t? The tower, powered by 4 AA batteries, bathes the board in infrared light, and a camera can see reflectors placed on each game piece. To roll the die, you hide your game piece from the camera by cupping your hand over it, and the computer rolls, complete with fake dice sounds. It then watches to make sure you land on the right property. There are new random events like a horse race, auctions, or a gas tax, and there’s an option to pay a bit more to upgrade your utilities so they are green.
What’s missing? “The disputes,” said Hasbro’s Leif Askeland, one of the game’s designers. “The tower never makes a mistake.”
We’re not exactly sure what the point of Monopoly is if not to cheat your relatives out of paper money and get into fights over what the rules really say about free parking. Maybe this will make for a gentler, kinder generation of economic opportunists who know better than to defy the tower. —PZS