A New Version Of Monopoly That Isn’t About Getting Rich And Bankrupting Your Friends

Commonopoly asks: What if the goal of the game wasn’t to crush other players under the boot heel of capitalist greed?

A now-defunct German art collective that went by the name of Big Hope has revolutionized the Monopoly board, making the goals less about accruing wealth and more about collective benefit, and called it “Commonopoly.” The new game, designed by Miklos Erhardt, Dominic Hislop, and Elske Rosenfeld in 2004, arranges things so that no one player is the banker, and they all have to collaborate on their moves.


“Unlike Monopoly, the goal of Commonopoly is not the exhaustion, through monopolization, of a virtual stock of goods, but rather the expansion and preservation of a self-propelling sustainable system of recycling, production and distribution,” the creators write.

Commonopoly, which has recently resurfaced in a couple of places online, demands that players brainstorm alternative economic systems through activities placed around the board. The players move counter clockwise, as per the instructions, and subsequent creative acts are to be documented in booklets later distributed to the public. Much of the game focuses on coming up with ideas for public spaces (in Taipei or elsewhere), as well as sharing home remedies for common ailments. You have to applaud the game’s Marxist kitsch, and maybe even the prescient, proto-Zuccotti Park flair.

Commonopoly also triggers another recent memory. In 2012, a team of psychologists from the University of California, Berkeley, designed several experiments to measure how wealth impacted unethical behavior. One of the experiments centered around a rigged Monopoly board designed to make one player “feel” rich. Even though the game was clearly swayed in one player’s favor (with that player’s knowledge), the rich players attributed their success to personal skill and talent after the game had finished.

The results of the other experiments came to the controversial conclusion that those with wealthier backgrounds were more likely to cut off other drivers, lie in negotiating, or cheat. Another recent study from the same group of researchers last month found that wealthier folks, when asked to draw themselves as circles, with size indicating importance, drew the biggest shapes. They also agreed that they were more “deserving”–or entitled–than most.

Would “Commonopoly” yield different results? No harm in downloading the instructions and trying it out.

About the author

Sydney Brownstone is a Seattle-based former staff writer at Co.Exist. She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with windows that don’t quite open, and covers environment, health, and data.