Monopoly is going 21st century. Soon, there will be a computer managing all the transactions in the game, which will make all the clever alterations to the game's rules that people inevitably use as part of the fun a thing of the past.
Monopoly Live, as it is called, was shown off at last week's Toy Fair in New York. Instead of that huge center space in the board, where players used to throw money, put the Community Chest and Chance cards, and roll the dice, is an infrared tower with a speaker. It's the HAL 9000 for your Monopoly board, and it issues commands, er, instructions, keeps track of the money and makes sure players stick to the rules. There's no confusion here. It even makes sure you advance the correct number of spaces.
Since they went this far, it's unclear why they didn't simply use electronic representations of the Monopoly figures you move around the board.
Board game sales declined 9 percent in 2010, and the new Monopoly, along with upgrades coming for Battleship and other games, are all designed to attract those who have been brought up on computer games, not board games. The new version is expected to launch in the fall, for around $50.
One thing in the game's favor is that the computer will probably speed up the game. There will be no more looking at the box's inside cover for rules. An example given by Jane Ritson-Parsons, global brand leader for Monopoly, is that if someone lands on a property and does not want to buy it, the property is supposed to immediately be auctioned.
We've never used that rule when we've played Monopoly. It might be nice if Hasbro adds a way to modify certain settings in the computer tower. Official rules, BTW, are here.
You can watch a video describing Monopoly Live below.