Monopoly board gets redesigned - IxD rationale?

5 Feb 2010 - 9:28am
4 years ago
20 replies
2238 reads
mattinteractive
2010

Just stumbled upon this article. Do you think there was some IxD
rationale behind this redesign? Was it even necessary?

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/108764/monopoly-gets-a-makeover-but-will-die-hard-fans-buy-it??mod=family-home

Comments

7 Feb 2010 - 4:12pm
Charles Boyung
2009

I think it is very, very odd. The electronic banking, as the article
states, has been an available item for several years, and that part
of it is fine, but the round board just doesn't make any sense. As
a board gamer, games like Monopoly haven't appealed to me in years
anyways, but there was still something comforting about the classic
square track. Also, the "wheel of fortune" style pie slices don't
seem big enough to convey what things are as well as the rectangles
and squares.

One thing to note - they tried the opposite way of "updating"
Monopoly not too long ago - didn't change the board shape, but this
time did change all of the property names, based on internet voting.
I'm pretty sure that didn't go over too well either.

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7 Feb 2010 - 4:17pm
susandoran
2010

The square board, and player movement around it, is reminiscent of moving
through a traditional city street grid -- not sure what the round shape
resonates with; seems arbitrary.

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7 Feb 2010 - 4:25pm
Stephen Collins
2009

On Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 5:28 PM, Matthew Thomas <matt at digitalmatt.net> wrote:
> Just stumbled upon this article. Do you think there was some IxD
> rationale behind this redesign? Was it even necessary?
>
> http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/108764/monopoly-gets-a-makeover-but-will-die-hard-fans-buy-it??mod=family-home

I have no evidence to support my claim, but I call marketing shenanigans.

SC
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trib at acidlabs.org | +61 410 680722 | @trib

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7 Feb 2010 - 4:46pm
tonyzeoli
2008

I like the fact they made it round and not square. There always seemed to
something intrinsically challenging about square gaming boards when I was a
kid. If you got up and accidentally kicked a corner, you'd send things
flying and everyone would get mad at you. Maybe, making it round gives it
more of a community feel and helps reduce accidents. It's also easier to
turn the board without the corner catching someone's big toe.

7 Feb 2010 - 4:50pm
mattinteractive
2010

Yeah, I can see how giving it a facelift (like any other product)
might be a marketing strategy. Would I'd love to know is if the game
sells better.

That aside, I can't decide whether or not it makes the game any
easier or more efficient to play. I'd have to try it out I suppose.
I'm a bit biased though because in my mind the Monopoly board is a
pretty old, and established tradition. Something about turning each
corner of the board gives a sense of accomplishment, albeit
insignificant.

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7 Feb 2010 - 5:08pm
Dave Cortright
2005

Looks like a mere graphic design facelift on an otherwise horribly designed
game.

If you want to talk bout *interaction* design applied to game design, look
no further than
Pandemic<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013OBXG2?ie=UTF8&tag=readishmael-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0013OBXG2>by
one of our own interactions designers, Matt
Leacock <http://www.linkedin.com/in/leacock>. It was nominated for the German
Game of the Year award <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiel_des_Jahres> in
2009, which is by far the highest honor in the world of board games.

The Board Game Geek top ranked games
list<http://www.boardgamegeek.com/browse/boardgame>is also a good
place to find well-designed games. It's worth noting that
Monopoly is ranked #5924 on that list, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The
crowd has spoken.

·Dave

7 Feb 2010 - 6:14pm
Charles Boyung
2009

David,

While I agree with you that Monopoly is not a very "FUN" game,
saying that it is poorly designed because a large number of gaming
snobs (yes, we are all snobs there) give it a low rating is not
really fair nor is it necessarily accurate. There are a few things
to consider -

In the world of game design, Monopoly is ancient. You can't really
compare a game conceived over 70 years ago with games made in the
last year, just like it isn't fair to compare the Model T to the
latest BMW. Advancements in so many areas as well as increased
knowledge and intelligence overall have changed how we all think
about what makes board games fun.

For ANYTHING to be able to survive 70 years on the market with little
to no functional changes, it has to be pretty well.

For every copy of those games sold in the top 10 (or 20, or even 50)
games, how many copies of Monopoly are sold each year? I would say
its at least 10 times (and that's being VERY conservative). That
means that a very large number of people MUST think that the game IS
fun. And since the main design concern with making a game is that it
is fun for the players, I would hardly call it a failure in design.

And the last point I'm going to make for now is the same point I
make when people on Board Game Geek get into a fit like this about
Monopoly (or its "wargame" counterpart - Risk) - how many of the
great games available now would even exist if it weren't for these
classic, yet very dated (in terms of mechanics) games? Almost every
"well designed" game out there now owes itself to one of these
"classic" games in one way or another. Even great games like
Settlers of Catan (at one time was #1 on Board Game Geek, now all the
way down to #45) and Puerto Rico (#2 on Board Game Geek) can trace
some of its mechanics to Monopoly. The game was revolutionary for
its time, and is still a very important game in the history of board
games, no matter how much snobs no longer like it.

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7 Feb 2010 - 10:28pm
zakiwarfel
2004

On Feb 7, 2010, at 5:08 PM, David Cortright wrote:

> It's worth noting that Monopoly is ranked #5924 on that list, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The
> crowd has spoken.

Guess that just shows how clueless the crowd is. Monopoly has been a mainstay game for decades and continues to sell year after year. So much for what the experts know. Must be the same group that churns out social media gurus.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

7 Feb 2010 - 10:50pm
Dave Cortright
2005

As designers, I think we all know that in many cases, success in the
marketplace has (unfortunately) little to do with quality of design. Yes,
many copies of Monopoly are purchased. But that has to do with marketing,
availability, price, brand recognition, lack of consumer awareness of
alternatives, etc. How many copies of Monopoly are even opened? How many are
played? How do the players feel about the experience after finishing (or
abandoning) a game?

And to Charles' point, yes Monopoly was groundbreaking, and important
historically. But that shouldn't (and doesn't) give it any advantage when
compared to today's offerings.

7 Feb 2010 - 11:02pm
Charles Boyung
2009

Sorry David, but I know LOTS of people that actually like to play
Monopoly. It even has national and worldwide tournaments that draw
in lots of people that love the game (both watching and playing in
the tournaments).

Even if marketing has a lot to do with it, the game is popular
because people like to play it. Horrible games with great marketing
are not going to survive for 70 years. And like I said (and you
conveniently avoided responding to) the primary design objective of a
game is for the players to have fun, so if the millions of people that
play Monopoly have fun doing so, how is it not designed at least
reasonably well?

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7 Feb 2010 - 11:14pm
Charles Boyung
2009

Todd, that's not entirely fair. You can't deny that there are many
board games out there that are much better than Monopoly. And in
general, the folks at Board Game Geek (and yes, I am one of them) are
pretty much spot on with their overall rankings, just like the folks
at IMDB are pretty good with movies.

However, one thing that you need to know is that there are a LOT of
board game snobs on the Geek, and especially a lot of Eurogame snobs
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-style_board_game). To them,
any game that involves rolling a die equals a bad game and good games
must be almost entirely strategy-driven. Hence, you will see the
rankings on the site severely skewed in that direction. But I have
as much fun playing Puerto Rico (#2 on BGG) as I do playing Killer
Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot (#2967 on BGG). Yes,
Puerto Rico has significantly less luck involved, and as such I
typically win or at least have a chance at winning much more often,
but winning isn't the most important thing when you are playing a
game. Heck, most of the time, it shouldn't even be in the top five
(definitely if you are playing with at least four other people).

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8 Feb 2010 - 7:44am
dtm82
2008

I, along with many others who have played Monopoly, have never heard
or looked up a board game before I buy it. IMDB has a much bigger
recognition, and doesn't seem as nerdy/geeky to the common person.
That aside, games with dice, like Monopoly and Risk, are a lot of
fun, because people realize that there is a chance element in their
daily lives...they can have a great idea (landing on and buying
Boardwalk) at exactly the wrong time (right before the land on
somebody's hotel on Connecticut). I have played the new 21st century
monopoly and by preserving paper fiat money, it was pretty fun, but
the properties were not realistic. This new game with e-bank
disallows any house rules (free parking to win other players' bank
fees) and mess with the city street paradigm that made it fun in the
first place.

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8 Feb 2010 - 7:53am
dtm82
2008

Sorry, typing it on a blackberry meant the input box scrolls off into
oblivion. I meant to say that I have never looked up a single game
on Board Game Geek, and a lot is done by word of mouth. That is how I
discovered Boggle, Stratego, and Rook. The tangible/tactile elements
of Monopoly were great, with the battleship and physical property
"deeds" and money and dice in-hand. These all added in ways other
games have only mimicked.

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8 Feb 2010 - 8:19am
zakiwarfel
2004

On Feb 7, 2010, at 10:50 PM, David Cortright wrote:

> And to Charles' point, yes Monopoly was groundbreaking, and important historically. But that shouldn't (and doesn't) give it any advantage when compared to today's offerings.

But it does. And that is all part of design. Ignoring the business and marketing side of the design equation is naive. Design is and should be a holistic approach. Ignoring that fact is a mistake.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

8 Feb 2010 - 8:23am
zakiwarfel
2004

On Feb 7, 2010, at 8:14 PM, Charles Boyung wrote:

> Todd, that's not entirely fair. You can't deny that there are many board games out there that are much better than Monopoly.

First of all, life, business, and design aren't fair. They never were and never will be. The sooner we understand and accept that as part of the design problem the better off we'll all be.

Second, I never said there aren't many board games out there that are better than Monopoly. I'd love for you to show where I said or even implied that.

Monopoly obviously isn't designed for or targeted to the game geeks. It's targeted at the millions and millions of people who purchase it, play it, give it away to friends, etc. It's incredibly successful at that. And all of that is part of Design.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Designer, messagefirst
Author of Prototyping: a practitioner's guide http://bit.ly/protobk
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at zakiwarfel.com
Blog: zakiwarfel.com
Twitter: @zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

8 Feb 2010 - 8:31am
Anonymous

Couldn't agree more with this assessment. There are countless times when i've had to talk people off the ledge and explain that, while a design might have its warts and they may want to add this or that to it, designing something that can't be built and delivered is a larger failure. When designing, our successes aren't just measured against how good the experience is, but how well it meets the goals of the business and market it's intended for.

Doug Brown
dougb at finitemonkey.com

On Feb 8, 2010, at 8:23 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

>
> Monopoly obviously isn't designed for or targeted to the game geeks. It's targeted at the millions and millions of people who purchase it, play it, give it away to friends, etc. It's incredibly successful at that. And all of that is part of Design.

8 Feb 2010 - 10:22am
jet
2008

Dan wrote:
> [...] This new game with e-bank
> disallows any house rules (free parking to win other players' bank
> fees) and mess with the city street paradigm that made it fun in the
> first place.

Exactly. How many times have you (collective) played %100 by the rules?
I'm guessing < 10 times for me, the rest of the time it was making up
local rules to make the game more interesting.

Monopoly is a extendable/hackable game. If you want, you can change it
to suit your needs. The player is involved in creating a localized game
to meet a unique set of needs. Off the top of my head, we jacked the
rules to handle things like:
- varying ages of players: issues with counting/adding/subtracting money
- varying skills of players: some people actually have a strategy
- amount of time to play a game

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

8 Feb 2010 - 4:25pm
Richard Carson
2010

Funny, when you first look at this commercial promotional board, you would think, "Hey! It's circular". However, they've made a rounded circular board from the past. I think the circular design was based on a Danish version of the game.

http://www.citizenarcane.com/files/2005_Jan_17/darrow_round.jpg (beautiful round board)

However, they've made hundreds of variations on the game Monopoly. Wooden boards, boards with built in table legs, The Simpsons variation on the game, etc...

http://www.muurkrant.nl/monopoly/collecting_monopoly_games.htm

As far as putting that ugly monstrosity they call a credit card/ atm machine in the middle, I think they've could have done better job in making the machine look and feel "friendlier!"

Richard Carson

9 Feb 2010 - 12:00am
Dave Jones
2010

I'm wondering whether or not the redesign came from a discussion in
which somebody said, "We need to make it more interactive!" Thus,
the E-bank thing was born, completely missing the point of a game
like Monopoly.

Of course, it's always important to remember that people approach
games for completely different reasons. Efficiency and clarity can
take a back seat to challenge. I know folks who will intentionally
play obtusely designed games (electronic or table-top) purely for the
challenge of learning and mastering their systems. On the video game
side of the equation, some of the most successful titles you can
point to have some of the least usable interaction designs
imaginable. The combat system in the Grand Theft Auto games is
terrible, and widely recognized as such. But people love the action
and combat sequences, anyway.

In some sense, similar principles apply to table-top or board games,
as well.

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7 Jul 2010 - 9:45pm
Gme
2010

I think it is okay to change monopoly to newer designs just to get with the times.  Just like what the do with board games for kids to make kids wanting them.

http://boardgamesforkids.net/

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