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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monopoly game paradox

Bloggers Carl Bialik and Andrew Gelman take on the game of Scrabble™ this week.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123731266862258869.html

http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2009/03/scrabble_rants.html

and Andrew presents a set of “improvements”.

 

This reminds me of an interesting paradox about the board game Monopoly™.  The typical complaint about this game is that it takes too long to play. So, you would think that there would be a variety of ways to play the game FASTER.  After all, complaints about the slowness of chess led to chess clocks and speed chess.

 

But most of the common modifications to the game make it slower.  

 

Some people put $500 on the “Free Parking” square, which inflates the amount of money in the game and makes it take longer for players to go bankrupt.  Others put all fines that should be paid to the bank on that square. Some people do both. 

 

When you mortgage, you are supposed to get back just half the value of houses, and pay a 10% fee unmortgage. We did neither as kids. To this day, I tend to overbuild early since I underworry about having to mortgage property.  (Luckily, this didn’t carry over into real life.) 

 

The rules say you have to pay up on your turn, but there are a variety of informal arrangements used to avoid this. So, instead of instant bankruptcy, we have bankruptcy almost inevitably occurring, but occurring 20 minutes later.

 

There are social reasons for these adjustments, but all of them make a long game longer.