I have a 2-year old living in my house, and as a quant/nerd/economist, I’m always looking for unique ways to educate my wee lad on how the world really works.  Games have always played an important social role in my family, and Monopoly has held a prominent role even in the pantheon of games.

However, it’s fair to say that Monopoly’s rules have become a bit antiquated if we’re trying to replicate the modern financial system.  And though I didn’t come up with these ideas (h/t BIG THINK), I think that the following principles all make a tremendous amount of sense.

  1. The bank isn’t a bystander, it’s a player.  In the real world, the lender is central to investment, and has an interesting role in a competitive market.  Essentially, the bank wants to lend out money to the players most likely to pay it back at the highest rate possible.  As such, somewhat controversially, the bank wants all the players to succeed, and to the extent that the banker lends money intelligently, the bank can be the biggest overall winner.  So someone should play the role of the bank, and not even have a piece on the board.
  2. The players can invest in each other.  In the real world, real estate investments and developments often take on outside investments.  This dynamic should be encouraged in the game, as well.  In the real world, it’s possible to be successful as an investor rather than an actual builder – why is this outcome not possible in Monopoly?
  3. Negotiate everything.  Though it can slow the game down, almost everything in Monopoly can – and should – be negotiated.  Negotiation is perhaps the most unappreciated skill in the modern economy, and honing these skills can pay massive dividends in real life.

For a more thoughtful explanation of suggested changes to the rules of Monopoly, click here for the full Big Think article.