Complexity and Simplicity: Monopoly and Now

Monopoly is a board game that has been played in America for over 100 years now, and in the last few decades, across the world.

Originally published by the gaming company The Parker Brothers in 1904, I am focusing on this board game because, like many others, I see similarities to some of these original / “basic” games in the video games we play today – on the computer, in many of the different game systems, and to tie it all together, in many of the ‘narrative mechanics’ and ‘rhetorical choices’ of many different game types today. 

Of course, there are simple and complex elements pulled from games like Monopoly and inserted into their more modern equivalents.  The original game to which I am referring here is, of course, named after the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single entity.

While I’m no expert, I know that games like “Halo” involve one or multiple shooters, and that the sense of domination and mechanics used to believe domination of these sorts of games is important, it could be argued that games like Monopoly laid the foundation for the type of “domination” effect that Halo contains.

According to interviews, in the video game “Halo”, in the distant past, an intelligent race called the Forerunners fought an alien parasite known as the Flood.

In Monopoly, it is less clear whether the world is set to exist in the very present, or in the immediate past, but the sense of domination from several ‘extreme’ versions of events (buying hotels and property, losing ‘all’ of your money, etc.) could have led to games in general with this sense of domination and extremity – as they do in Halo.

According to my research on the internet, in Halo, a Covenant fleet arrives at Earth after this domination occurs. Most of the fleet is destroyed, but a single ship under the command of one of the Covenant’s Hierarchs, the Prophet of Regret, breaks through the human defenses and invades the African city of New Mombasa. 

Once again tying to Monopoly, even the words “fleet” and “command” are repeatedly used across games, board, video and otherwise, today, words that originated from classics like Monopoly.

Rather than a brief note on the comparisons between board and video games, or Monopoy and Halo, I am once again introducing a new concept: that we often fail to remember what classic or “basic” elements garnered the type of complex imaging, software, games, technology, vocabulary, and knowledge we have today. 

Did Solitaire lay the foundation for some of the games and videos we have played or are listed to play and view in this class? What other classic games or classic elements led to more modern and complex games today?


  1. Interesting idea here. I never thought about it before. Correct me if I’m wrong – the concept of “dominating” in video games dates back further than early first-person shooters like Quake, back to games like Monopoly? I totally see the connection. It is a very similar feeling to be dominating in Monopoly or Halo, yet each game elicits that feeling in an entirely different way.

  2. ultrapoulet said:

    While it’s true that Monopoly has helped inspire modern gaming, I believe that many other games from centuries ago have also influenced the way games today are. For example, chess has been played for several hundred years, and its influence in gaming over those many years has been tremendous. Many games, such as Starcraft and Civilization, can be said to be heavily influenced by chess. In all 3 games, all players usually enter the game with a strategy, but also have to be willing to adapt to changes quickly. Even combat in these games are similar; every unit or piece has a different use, movement capabilities, and relative worth. Some pieces or units are worth sacrificing to protect the more precious, powerful units. There are many other elements these games have in common, but I think this is enough to get the point across. At first glance, an older game and a newer one might seem to little in common, but closer analysis can find influences connecting the two.

  3. Good job with your post! It was very interesting. I’ve never really recognized the influence that games like monopoly had on shooting games like Halo. I can see how both center on the idea of dominance and how the creators define dominance. In monopoly, money is the foundation for dominance. It is what gives you your status and makes you powerful, whereas in Halo, killing is what makes you powerful. Defeating the enemy, which in this case is by violence, is what gives you your status. Monopoly has a sense of innocence, whereas Halo does not. I would also like to add that although I see how monopoly influenced Halo, I can also see how Halo could have been influenced by other board games like battle ship as well as movies. Video games had various influences and you bring up a great point! the most simplest and blandest of games could be influences to very complex and violent games.

  4. prutting834 said:

    I really like the ideas behind this post, as I never put two and two together before and tied in Monopoly to the concept of “domination.” I definitely agree that classic games like Monopoly established this idea of domination as a popular theme for games to come. Specifically, I look at how domination game typs are present in almost all online gameplay for modern first person shooters. In particular, I am thinking of the Call of Duty games. The most popular game type in these online shooters is “Domination,” in which there are 3 flags and the objective is to control as many of the flags as possible. The game score goes to 200, and the more flags your team controls, the faster your team score goes up. For example, if your team controls 3 flags all game while the other team controls 0, the final score of the game would be 200-0 (your team needs flags to score). Thus, I believe classic games like Monopoly established domination as a popular theme in games, and this theme is still popular today in how “Domination” is the most-played game type in Call of Duty.

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