Is Monopoly’s latest makeover a winner? Or should it go (directly) to jail?
The Hasbro game, which was first conceived of around 1903 — fun fact, by a woman — has been reinvented countless times over the years. Editions exist that pay homage to most any city or state you can think of, as well as television shows like HBO series “Game of Thrones” and movies like Dreamworks classic “Shrek.”
Its latest iteration features a different sort of fairy tale, however: a world in which women are paid more than men, and their innovations are coveted as valuable assets. “Ms. Monopoly,” as it’s being called, offers female players a starting bonus of nearly $2,000, an additional $240 for passing “go” (as opposed to the customary $200) and sells women’s inventions like WiFi instead of real estate.
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Jen Boswinkel, senior director of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro Gaming, told USA Today that its intent is to clue younger generations in to the existence of the pay gap. And it’s a persistent problem — overall, women are still earning 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, with women of color making even less than that.
“With all of the things surrounding female empowerment, it felt right to bring this to Monopoly in a fresh new way,” Boswinkel says. “It’s giving the topic some relevancy [sic] to everyone playing it that everybody gets a turn, and this time women get an advantage at the start.”
But public reaction to the idea has run the gamut, from those who see its potential to enlighten and inspire future generations of women to those who find the idea condescending, or indicative of an increasingly sensitive culture. (For context, nearly half of American men and just under a third of American women don’t think the pay gap even exists.)
Others, however, feel it doesn’t go far enough to empower. “Ms. Monopoly also underscores an effort by Madison Avenue to champion feminism as a branding gimmick rather than make tangible change,” says one critique from sports and business reporter Mary Pilon. “If Hasbro is serious about women’s empowerment, perhaps the company could start by admitting that a woman invented Monopoly in the first place.”
For those looking to decide for themselves, the game will be available for purchase later this month.
[Related: She’s Working to Eliminate the Gender Wage Gap]