Parker Bros. released this version in 1939,
but soon recalled it and destroyed most copies.
From The Museum of Play.
The original game was invented by Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie and called "The Landlord's Game." Here's the fun part:
Collaborating with friends in her Brentwood, Maryland community, Elizabeth Magie created The Landlord's Game.... She explained that the game was to be a "practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences."
While still a young, single woman, Elizabeth -- or "Lizzie" as she came to be called -- became a regular visitor to the Single Tax enclave of Arden, Delaware. This was around 1903. Whether on her own or in conjunction with other Single Taxers in Arden, Lizzie continued to work on the design of The Landlord's Game as a way to explain how Henry George's system of political economy would work in real life.
The Landlord's Game would be very similar in play to Monopoly today, with some interesting exceptions. From a website with the original rules, we learn that buying a property then was like buying a property now . . . with a devious twist:
If the lot is not yet owned by any of the players, it is "For Sale" and the player stopping upon it may purchase it at the original sale price, provided no other player bids more for it. If the player who has stopped upon it is willing to pay the highest price bid, he has the first option. If he cannot or does not want to pay the highest price bid, then the player bidding the highest price must take the lot at the price he has bid for it. If the first player does not [buy] a lot and some other player does, the first player pays the land rent to the purchaser.
(I emboldened the section italicized at the website. Oh, and screw LJ for that continuing formatting decision.)
So, as you can imagine, the game moves quite a bit more quickly, the richest players soon getting ever wealthier by being able to outbid other players without needing to land on the property.
Here, though, is the twist. Remember that Ms. Magie was a student and teacher of good ol' Henry George. She went so far as to serve "as the headmistress of the Henry George School of Social Science, which she operated out of her home." (Mary Pilon, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, Bloomsbury, 2015, p. 134.) For her, The Landlord's Game was a teaching game, not just a cutthroat endeavor to dominate your friends. She included two sets of rules, one to emulate the real world of land rent dominance.
The Landlord's Game is based on present prevailing business methods. This the players can prove for themselves; and they can also prove what must be the logical outcome of such a system, i.e., that the land monopolist has absolute control of the situation.
Ah, but the game need not be ended when one player has enough leverage to monopolize the outcome. Here's the twist: "If the players wish to prove how the application of the Single Tax would benefit everybody by equalizing . . . opportunities and raising wages, they may at any time during the game put the single tax into operation by a vote of at least two of the players." The rules then list what to change in order to make sure people simple play without end.
Which would make for a damned boring game, to be sure. But what about for a way of life? In real life, the goal is not to become the economic roadkill of some monopolizing agent, but rather to live an enjoyable life for as long as one can.
I had a thought the other day. We no longer play The Landlord's Game. We all play Monopoly. What if there were a second set of rules for any given Monopoly set similar to the Georgist rules provided for The Landlord's Game? Has anyone drawn up such rules before? Or been curious to see how such rules would play?
I'm sure such a person would be a gamer, or at least game oriented. Such a person might also be familiar with Henry George's work and influence, and have sufficient grasp of the modern-day Monopoly game to re-interpret The Single Tax rules from Lizzie's game.