Monopolygate: the real story behind Monopoly and Anti-Monopoly
Posted October 14, 2009on:
Ridley Scott announced his commitment into a new movie based on the Monopoly board game.
The script is not ready yet, so we can’t give you an overview of the plot, but we can tell you about the real story behind the invention of Monopoly.
A story of money, success, plagiarism and legal fights revealed to the pubblic only in the eighties after the so called Monopolygate:
The Monopolygate started long time ago, when, in Germantown, in the suburbs of Philadelfia, during the years of the Great Depression, an unemployed engineer named Charles Darrow, created the first prototype of Monopoly one of the most famous board games of the world.
Charles first started a small-scale in house production of the new board game and after its first success, registered the copyright and closed a millionaire deal with Parker Brothers for the distribution of the new Monopoly.
In that period Parker Brothers was part of the big and powerful General Mills, one of the top companies in the United States.
This was the official story of Monopoly since the beginning of the seventies, when the professor Anspach, tired of a board game that from his point of view favoured only wild capitalism, invented and produced a new version of Monopoly inspired by the free market:
Anspach called this new board game Anti-Monopoly.
Anspach wasn’t the only one to think that Monopoly with all its proprieties speculations has a really bad influence on western morals; during the first days of the economic crisis a lot of people have suggested that the subprime crisis was like a “crazy but real Monopoly” that encouraged players to put every last penny of their savings into a property.
When Anspach firstly released the Anti-Monopoly (1973), Darrow was already very rich and famous for his invention, was something like a national hero, a great example of self made American man.
Immediately Parker Brothers, accused Anspach of plagiarism and took him to court.
But Anspach, like a modern Don Quixote, exposed to the public the skeletons in Darrow’s closets:
In fact it seems that Monopoly was invented long way before Darrow’s first release by a group of Quakers friends in Atlantic City who used to pass the time playing this game on an handmade drawn board.
The Monopoly trial was a long legal fight of a giant company against one man, but Parker Brothers’ accusations fell in the eighties, when professor Anspach was invited to a talk show and recieved a live call of a woman affirming that the mother of a friend of her had played Monopoly in 1920.
In 1984 the Monopolygate arrived to the Supreme Court who gave reason to Anspach and his Anti-Monopoly:
it was not plagiarism because plagiarism had occurred previously, when Darrow attribiuted to himself the idea of a group of friends of Atlantic City.
Exhausted and on the on the verge of bankruptcy Anspach made a deal with Parker Brothers and was compensated for his financials loss and reaffirmed his right to publish the Anti-Monopoly board game.
He also wrote a book of 300 pages, entitled ‘Monopolygate, The True Story Behind Monopoly’, describing the years of his David and Goliath Battle for the Anti-Monopoly board game.
It seems that there’s a lot of material for a movie here, but I don’t know if the new Ridley Scott’s Monopoly movie , due out in 2010, will include this story or at least some parts of it.
Probably the film will focus more on the board game itself and on its economic dynamics.