Monopolising Melbourne

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by Mary McConville

When the game of Monopoly was first invented in 1935 it was intended to educate the ordinary citizen as to how capitalism worked and the game’s board was based on the streets of Atlantic City. The original game of Monopoly proved so popular that it morphed into various forms. The one that Australian players are most likely to recognise uses areas of London, such as Old Kent Rd. and Mayfair. The game has now been developed to use the streets and culture of each major Australian city. The Melbourne version was launched on Tuesday the 10th of November by the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who was accompanied by Mr Monopoly himself as he (the Lord Mayor) threw the first dice.

Monopoly 112 Photo by Irene GrynbaumReid Herbert, from Winning Moves Australia, the games’ company that manufactured the new version, went to the public and asked them to tell him what should be included in Melbourne’s Monopoly. The public came back with a flood of suggestions. Some of the ideas taken up were – Etihad Stadium, Flinders St. Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, Queen Victoria Market, the Arts’ Centre, Hardware Lane and St Kilda Beach. The most popular spot was the MCG, first built in the 1850′s, which was given the prized position that Mayfair took in the English version of Monopoly.

Some of the new game’s tokens reflect both Melbourne’s glories and Melbourne’s stereotypes. There is a miniature Phar Lap, a takeaway coffee cup, spray paint, a football, a tram and a book. The Community Chest and Chance Cards also uses stereotypical types and occasions. One card says that “A Fitzroy hipster takes too long ordering a half strength, decaf, soy-mocha frappacino, setting you back three spaces.” I think that means a weak, frothy coffee with soy milk and a bit of chocolate. The game can also give you a $100 bonus due to you picking the winner at the Melbourne Cup. You’ll spend some of this bonus on tickets for the AFL Grand Final. It’s too late in the year to enjoy this as a reality but it’s still a fine fantasy in your game of Monopoly.

There have been some criticism of the new game. It is considered too touristy and too tuned into business rather than Melbourne’s culture. The Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was not too fussed about the debate and said that he expected people to disagree about the appropriate locations.

Everyonr has their own ideas on what to include in the new game. Alana Schetzer, writing in The Age on the 11th of November suggested the inclusion of the food trucks that gather outside Edinburgh Gardens or the people in the long, long queues outside St Ali coffee. Another suggestion was to include the classy shops in Collins St. or the street in Moonee Ponds that (Dame) Edna Everage graced with her presence. I’d like to suggest Birrarung Marr, the Yarra and the Botanical Gardens. It’s unfortunate that we cannot include everyone’s favourite corners.

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