Sunday, January 13, 2008

Down the Shore with...Philip E. Orbanes

If you know your Monopoloy, you know that the properties on the board are all named after streets in Atlantic City. Paul E. Orbanes, a former Parker Brothers executive, lets us know why and a whole lot more in Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game--And How It Got That Way.

Orbanes is also a South Jersey Shore product -- born in Somers Point and grew up in Goshen, which is in Cape May County. What better subject for a "Down the Shore with..." could you get?

1. Where did the idea for this book come from?
I've been interested in Monopoly since I was a kid in South Jersey. While I was working for Parker Brothers several years ago, I was asked to serve as chief judge at US and World Monopoly tournaments. I found I had a knack for this and have been judging these tournaments ever since. Along the way, the history of Monopoly became a serious interest for me. I decided to write the book to provide my readers with everything I've learned about the game's history and, amazingly, how much it has helped shape American history.

2. Why do you think Monopoly is so popular?
Monopoly's popularity is due to more than its board, pieces, cards, and money. It's what happens off the board -- the interaction between its players -- that drives is appeal. This makes every game fresh and interesting; it's timeless.

3. Why do you think there are so many myths surrounding how the game was created?
Unlike most games. Monopoly incubated for a very long time. Thirty years in all. Many people, from humble to famous, influenced the game that Parker Brothers acquired and published in 1935. This long gestation period provided lots of fodder for theories, rumors and "conspiracies." In reality, the truth is pretty clear and the story is fascinating.

4. Is there really any value to getting Baltic and Mediterranean? I've killed my brother on rental fees that way.
Baltic and Mediterranean are too cheap to provide "killer" rents. However, they provide a decent cash flow if you have hotels on them. Side note: the new Monopoly: Mega Edition includes skyscrapers and, for the first time, these two properties can win the game for you if you manage to build skyscrapers on them.

5. There'd been rumors a few years ago about changing the names of the properties on the 'classic' Monopoly format. Now why would anyone go and do that?
Fortunately, the classic game is the same today as it was in 1935. No property names have been changed. However, there are over 200 versions of the game where the properties are named after those found in states, cities, TV shows, movies, etc. For fans of these, Monopoly seems infinitely adaptable.

6. And what's one thing about Monopoly that not even die hard fans might not know?
It was used to smuggle escape tools and money to POWs in German prison camps during W.W.II. The British Secret Service was involved. Security was so tight, even the Secret Service didn't know this same factory, making Monopoly, was also working on secret projects for the British army. The truth about these was not revealed until 40 years after the war ended.

Digg this

1 comment:

Trish Ryan said...

I am SO digging out our Monopoly game tonight. Hadn't even realized I missed it until reading your post :)