Did Board Games Cause the Financial Meltdown?

Posted on June 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

The Big Money has an interesting — and thought-provoking — slide show suggesting that the roots of the financial crisis come from the lessons we learned as children playing board games. Just look at these directions from Monopoly:

Monopoly has taught us that financial institutions are invincible. The game’s banker cannot go bankrupt, according to the rules: “The Bank never ‘goes broke.’ If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much as needed by writing on any ordinary paper.

“The Game of Life” and “Payday” encourage players to buy houses even without money and make deals with or without money and “Risk” encourages them to conquer the world. Fantasy? Well, so were the high-tech and subprime derivative bubbles. I know they are joking here, but it does make me wonder what kinds of games we should create to teach today’s children to be more careful?

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4 Replies to “Did Board Games Cause the Financial Meltdown?”

  1. Nell,
    My all time favorite “board”, or more aptly, table game is Settlers of Catan. It is from Germany, the land of some of the best prodiced, most thought provoking board games. In this game resources are “earned” (by luck, though there is a way built in to make luck work in your favor), traded, and spent for development. Wasteful development works against some players. It is a game that is fairly easy to learn but has stages of development for increased complexity. The board is created for each game and has the ability to be changed radically, even re-shaped. It is a bit expensive, but worth the cost. The initial game is designed for 4 players, but expansions can be bought for two more. There is also a card version, a dice version, and a vast international online version. But I am a tactile kind of person and the table version is still the best of all. Look for it at the Complete Strategist in Falls Church or NYC or some of the bigger/better toy stores (there is a great huge game store at Potomac Mills too, but I’ve forgotten their name)
    Another great board game, also German, is Carcasonne. It is based on a medeival French castle/town. It is more rudementary than Catan but just as much fun. Again, the “board” changes in each game.
    In terms of finance, the classic game is the former Avlon Hill’s “Acquire”. It is now produced in small quantities by Hasbro, using the Avlon Hill name. This is not an easy kids game, but worth learning.
    I remain a fan of RISK and Monopoly, and have many different editions in my collection. But for playability and learning, nothing beats Catan or Carcasonne.

  2. Remarkable synchronicity, jesterfyl — just after I read this comment yesterday I picked up Wired Magazine which had a letter to the editor about a previous article about Settlers of Catan, with a comment from the editor calling it the best game their family has ever played. I will have to check it out!

  3. My children do not play much about board games,they prefer to play their Video games.The prefer to play outdoor games like going to the
    park and play.If we have a chance i would rather recommend to play the Scrabble,but school homeworks are taking much of their time and
    mine as well.

  4. I’ve been tired of MW2.. I can’t wait for Black Ops! I just registered to get my copy of Call of Duty Black Ops before release… yeaaa!!
    The single player FFA modes are gonna be sooo sick!

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