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Monopoly still going strong at 75

Think of real estate speculation and dubious lending policies and the current financial crisis comes to mind.

india Updated: Oct 15, 2010 01:49 IST

Think of real estate speculation and dubious lending policies and the current financial crisis comes to mind.

But low-down real estate deals and unstable speculation have always belonged to Monopoly. For 75 years it’s been an amusing board game luring people who take pleasure in playing a game in which they can drive their friends into financial ruin.

In Germany, where Monopoly is one of the best-known board games, the game's publisher recently celebrated the anniversary by letting people use Monopoly money to buy the newest version of the game, which has a round game board. The special sale lasted a symbolic 75 minutes on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz.

The game arrived on the market in the US just a few years after the world economic depression of the 1930s and it spread around the world. Today it is available in 111 countries and 43 languages. There is, however, no clear date to celebrate the anniversary of the game. The patent application was filed in August of 1935, but the patent wasn't issued until December 31.

There are two countries in the world in which selling and playing the game are officially forbidden — North Korea and Cuba — according to the US board game and toy maker Hasbro, which owns the rights to Monopoly.

Other bastions of anti-capitalism have fallen like dominoes. Glasnost brought Monopoly to the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988, and a short time later it appeared in other east European countries. A Chinese edition has also been released, while the digital age has spawned of several computer versions of the board game.

The connection between the revival of board games now and another economic downturn is significant.

The game’s longevity certainly also has to do with its ability to adapt. In addition to all the versions based on major cities, there are even versions based on the Star Wars movies.