Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Monopoly" was invented by a woman.

Lizzie Magie, a Maryland Quaker, called it The Landlord's Game, and she patented it in 1904.

Early attempts at publication of The Landlord’s Game yielded mixed results. Landlord was published in 1906 by the Economic Game Company of New York, in which Magie herself was principal shareholder. In 1913 it appeared in Scotland under the title Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit. (Don’t ask.) George Parker rejected it in 1909 as being too complicated and unengagingly political, and did so again in 1924 when Magie revised the game and renewed her patent.
It did, however, achieve success in an entirely different direction. To understand why, we need to note that our inventive Quaker, far from devoting a game to the praise of Mammon, actually devised it as a moral tale showing how unfair rents could be charged by unscrupulous landlords, for which, if there is any justice in the world, they will—in the game world, at least—rightly fetch up in jail.

From a review of Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game and How It Got That Way, by Philip E. Orbanes. The review goes on to explain the difference between "war games" (e.g. chess, checkers) and "race games"--and to describe some of the innovative ways in which Lizzie Magie changed the face of the "race games" for good.

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