What don't you like about Monopoly? Too limited? Predictable? No one to play with?
Then Google's newest brainstorm, Monopoly City Streets, to be unveiled Wednesday, Sept. 9, might pique your interest. The online game table is the entire world, the players everyone in the world who wants in, and the goal is to become the richest person in the world.
According to the UK Guardian, players will start with $3 million each (in the age of stimulus, I suppose this equals the old $200).
They can then buy any street in the world. Of course, the tonier the street, the higher the price, and as more popular streets are purchased, a vigorous market for them is expected. Broadway in New York should fetch a handsome price, while Fishhead Alley in Backwater, Missouri may come at Baltic Avenue prices.
Players can also bid on noteworthy sites such as Yankee Stadium and (I presume) the Vatican. Once the player owns a street, he/she can build on it much like in the original game, anything from beginner homes to castles. The difference is that here the player uses digital buildings designed in Google's SketchUp program.
The Guardian reporter paid $1.14 million for the main street of the new community of Tithebarn, on which he immediately erected a skyscraper. Since the game rules have him receiving rental income of $288,000 a day, this seems like a shrewd purchase.
The conflict essential for any good game is provided by Chance Cards, which are given to players randomly. These cards give the bearer the right to bulldoze properties owned by competitors, or build rent-killing properties such as jails and landfills on their land, thereby diminishing their rent and increasing the atttacking player's.
The game, a cooperative venture of Google and Hasbro which is scheduled to run for four months, should spark more creative uses of Google Maps and perhaps revive a tired Monopoly franchise. I'm wondering, now that the game is virtual, that I can afford to adopt as my token a Blahnik shoe instead of the old lead boot.