Do not pass go, do not collect $200
January 12, 2014 4:42 AM   Subscribe

Inside Monopoly's secret war against the Third Reich The story of how Clayton Hutton came to use Monopoly to try and help POW escape during WWII.
posted by Apoch (18 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's a bit disappointing when ten thousand or so words in he finally gets around to mentioning that this might not have actually happened:

Whether the Monopoly escape kits ever made it out of Waddingtons probably shouldn't matter

Yes well if you're going to make it the main focus of your article then it probably does matter in fact
posted by ook at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


I can't read the article here because work's internet filter thinks it is a game site, but a different article about Monopoly escape kits was posted previously. I love the story, and WWII prison escapes in general. Probably from growing up watching Hogan's Heroes.
posted by TedW at 6:21 AM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait -- I just started the article, ducked back here, and the kits never made it to the front?

Those kits are part of Monopoly's surrounding lore, sponsored by Parker Bros./Hasbro, along with Charles Darrow being the first game designer millionaire and the game coming with $15,140 in cash. Notably absent from this lore, of course, is The Landlord's Game and any mention of Elizabeth Magie.

Trivia: Houdini met H. P. Lovecraft before he died, and HPL ghostwrote a story for him. The surprising thing about this is that Lovecraft was pretty obscure in life except among a small cadre of weird fiction authors and fans. There's a free episode of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast that covers it.

From TFA:
the Brits had never seen this exotic paste before, and assumed that it was shoe polish

It's called peanut butter. If it had a label with a name, and that name is made of two edible things, well, eating it's worth a shot.

Still, Monopoly! With its familiar streets, its familiar rituals.

"I landed on Free Parking! Give me $3,000 and your food ration for the evening."

Long days in the camp meant that the prisoners quickly adapted the rules of the game so that a single match could take a fortnight to unfold and then they played and played and played.

The story of those adaptations, a way to make Monopoly interesting for those scales of time, would be interesting. Neverminding the why (they were POWs), what were they?
posted by JHarris at 6:28 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had a job interview at Waddingtons, many years ago. They were all "people think we're about Monopoly, but really we're an industrial packaging company. Look at this new slanted toothpaste tube box. How about this ring pull top on a plastic container? Cutting edge or what? We just need somebody to explain computers to us."

In those days, the deal was that Waddingtons got the UK rights to Monopoly in exchange for Parker Brothers getting the international rights to Cluedo (Clue). Now I think Hasbro owns all the games and the vaunted industrial packaging thing is dead.
posted by Segundus at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


"It was ingenious," said Philip Orbanes, author of several books on Monopoly, including "The World's Most Famous Game and How it Got That Way."

A photo notes that Philip Orbanes founded Winning Moves. A story of Orbanes might itself be interesting, because I have no idea how one could write on Monopoly without exhausting the subject somewhere around page 60 of book 1. But then, I always had trouble stretching to make page counts in school.
posted by JHarris at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2014


They were all "people think we're about Monopoly, but really we're an industrial packaging company. Look at this new slanted toothpaste tube box.

The Waddingtons thing is another part of the lore of the game. I would admire how the hell PB/Hasbro has managed to get that fact into everyone's brain if I didn't hate it so much, because it's just marketing. Marketing marketing marketing. Is there anything about Monopoly at this point that isn't marketing, to make those slabs of cardboard and paper and little metal and plastic trinkets more valuable to own than produce and distribute?
posted by JHarris at 6:34 AM on January 12, 2014


It was a ripping yarn regardless. I'd love to have one of those silk maps.
posted by arcticseal at 6:46 AM on January 12, 2014


Whew, that article could have been a bit more compact, but it was worth slogging through. Did anyone else think of Allo Allo while reading it?
posted by Calzephyr at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2014


> Notably absent from this lore, of course, is The Landlord's Game and any mention of Elizabeth Magie.

Elizabeth Magie is specified as the creator of The Landlord's Game in the first paragraph to directly address the history of Monopoly. The subsequent paragraph opens, "Over the next few decades Magie's design was copied and bootlegged and expanded and embellished..."

It is safe to say that she is given her due in this particular recounting of Monopoly's role in World War II. If it's not at the top of the article, this has more to do with the author's rambling, digressive style which I personally thought was a perfectly fine style of writing for a Sunday morning read about something which is not of vital personal or professional interest to me.
posted by ardgedee at 8:07 AM on January 12, 2014


Elizabeth Magie is specified as the creator of The Landlord's Game in the first paragraph to directly address the history of Monopoly.

By "the lore," I did not mean this article, but Hasbro's oddly widespread promotional information about the game.
posted by JHarris at 8:11 AM on January 12, 2014


Me and my other millionaire friends play this game with real USD. No free parking.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:23 AM on January 12, 2014


... and it's an ARG, where we drive from one real property to the next, Gumball Rally style.
posted by zippy at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2014


Me and my other millionaire friends play this game with real USD. No free parking.

Like these guys?
posted by TedW at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was a ripping yarn regardless. I'd love to have one of those silk maps.

I think you mean it was a highly flammable but silent yarn.

I'll show myself out.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:33 PM on January 12, 2014


What a fantastic story.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2014


I couldn't get through the article - and I love the subject of WW2 escapes. But try as I might, I couldn't do it. That piece of writing was truly awful.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:38 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was a bit digressive and overlong. The thing that bugged me was the shaggy-dog story overtones -- in the end, there's no proof anyone ever used any of these gadgets to get out. The only testimonial we have is the production documents and the German camp commander who says he found a bunch of the stuff but imagines much more got through.

Seems to me if it had been even slightly common you'd have the odd Stalag 17 anecdote relaying someone's personal experiences. On the other hand, you did have the Official Secrets Act covering Brits, and the narrative of that film (adapted, of course, into Hogan's Heroes) was the ingenuity and determination of the POWs themselves, which is more pleasing in a mass entertainment.
posted by dhartung at 10:46 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nick what didn't you like about it? I thought it was very good.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2014


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