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Posts Tagged ‘board games

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor”*…

 

For a singular image of the Great Depression and the roughness of those years, it’s hard to do much better than Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, two of her children tucking their faces over her shoulders, a baby in her lap.

Where that image comes from, there are many, many more: around 175,000 surviving portraits of America between 1935 and 1945 taken by the photographers of the government’s Farm Security Administration. The Library of Congress, which houses the collection, has, remarkably, digitized all the negatives and tagged the records with loads of data, such as who took the picture and where it was taken.

Now, thanks to a new project known as Photogrammar from Yale University, viewers will have a much easier time exploring the photographs. There’s a map that displays the images by county and another that shows where each picture was taken and by which photographer. There’s also an interactive that allows viewers to sort the photos by theme (e.g. “war” or “religion”) and then browse from there. Other tools are still in the works

Agricultural workers bound for upstate New York in time for the harvest

More at “Seeing the Great Depression.”

* John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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As we go West, we might recall that it was on this date in 1935 that Parker Brothers purchased the patent for “The Landlord’s Game” from Elizabeth Magie, a Quaker political activist who had used the theories of the economist Henry George to create the game to illustrate the way in which monopolies impoverish (“bankrupt”) the many while concentrating extraordinary wealth in one or few.  Parker Brothers had released a copy– Charles Darrow’s “Monopoly”– which  was (to put it politely) closely modeled on “The Landlord’s Game”; when Darrow’s version became a hit in 1933, Parker Brothers bought “The Landlord’s Game” as insurance against a intellectual property suit– and subsequently paid Ms. Magie $500 for her patent to avoid a (completely justified) claim from her that “Monopoly” was, in effect, stolen.  It is estimated that over a billion people have played “Monopoly” over the years.

“The Landlord’s Game” board, from Magie’s original patent application

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Written by LW

November 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly”*…

 

The game Monopoly was created in the early 1930s as “The Landlord Game” by a Quaker anxious to illuminate the dangers of unbridled acquisitiveness.  But by 1935, when it was acquired by Parker Bros., it had been copied, re-titled, and remade into the paean to aspirational capitalism that’s been a huge success ever since.

But times have changed; the methods of wealth accumulation have morphed…  and now there is a new set of rules to reflect this new reality.

It would be hard to simplify capitalism further than Monopoly. The game attempts to express the ruthlessness of raw capitalism by declaring that whoever has the most money at the “end” is the winner. While it’s true our culture proclaims the rich as our greatest heroes, the method of financial gain in Monopoly is not a system that allows for any creativity. Roll the dice, buy a property, pay rent, pass go, and collect $200. Repeat.

Simple models have long been used to help understand complex ideas. With a few small changes Monopoly can be a space where we can play at being in control of the economic system. All it takes is a few new rules.

Rule Change #1: The Banker

In the original rules the role of the banker is simply a chore–the board game equivalent of taking out the trash. But in real life the banker is no passive entity. The banker is the center of the universe.

The Libor scandal, the UBS money laundering scandal, the SAC Capital scandal, FINRA suing Wells Fargo and Bank of America, TD Bank paying to settle charges of a ponzi scheme, Galleon Group’s insider trading scandal. This list could go on. The point is that banking is
exciting work!

The role of the banker is special. The banker should have no piece on the Monopoly board, but this person is in charge of the bank’s money. The success of the banker is judged the same as any other player: Whoever accumulates the most wealth is the winner. Of course, as in life, the banker has some advantages (like control of all the money)…

Read the rest of the new rules at “Rethinking the game of Monopoly“…  then roll the dice.

Playing this version of Monopoly won’t help you understand the details of a banking scandal. But you’ll have experience with a simplified model of the financial system that generates regular “scandals.” A game where arguing and backstabbing are part of the rules and the winner is hard to determine. This simple model recreates the same results found in the real world.

* Stephen Wright

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As we wonder why no one’s done time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1882 that the San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange was formed;  it later merged with with Los Angeles Oil Exchange to become the Pacific Stock Exchange.  In 1999 it became the first stock exchange in the U.S. to demutualize, and in 2003, closed its trading floors and went to electronic transactions. The PSX, as it was known, merged into the New York Stock Exchange in 2006.

The San Francisco home of the Pacific Stock Exchange from 1930 to 2003

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Written by LW

June 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

“And now that I have some wood, I will begin the erection of my settlement”*…

 

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Family game nights, game nights in bars, game nights with friends– game nights are back!  And Board Games for Me can help…

It is a great time to enjoy board games. Great publishers are turning out a wide variety or high-quality games. Crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter, are allowing independent designers to create unique and interesting games. Internet video series, such as TableTop, are demonstrating how fun board games can be to a huge audience.

This rise in popularity leads to one frustration, finding games that fit what you are looking for can be difficult. Few people have the time to wade through the flood of games that are available to find something you will enjoy. Board Games for Me aims to make things easier for you by allowing you to easily search through several games and find ones that are the perfect fit for you. We want you to spend your time playing games, not searching for what you want to play next.

So, give it a try. You can have results back in less than a minute. What are you waiting for? Get out there and play more games!

* Sheldon Cooper, playing Settlers of Catan in Episode 100 of Big Bang Theory

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As we roll the dice, we might recall that it was on this date in 1991 that Pamela Smart was convicted Coral Gables, Florida of conspiring to murder her husband Greg.  A 24-year-old part-time heavy metal radio DJ (she hosted “Metal Madness”, as “Maiden of Metal” on local station WVFS), Pam had seduced 15-year-old Billy Flynn, then threatened him with an end to her sexual favors if he failed to help her get rid of Greg.  Flynn obliged, with the help of three friends.  All five conspirators were quickly arrested, tried, and convicted.

Flynn, who is serving a 30 years, has apologized and asked for a reduction in sentence.  Smart, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, continues to maintain her innocence.

One can only wonder if regular game nights might have prevented this tragedy.

Pamela Smart taking the oath at her trial

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Written by LW

March 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

Who – Where – How?…

In 1949, a solicitor’s clerk in Birmingham, Anthony Pratt, sold the rights to “Murder,” a board game he had invented, to English publisher Waddington’s, which in turn licensed North American rights to Parker Bros.  Later that year, the two companies introduced, respectively, Cluedo and Clue…. since when, tens of millions of people around the world have struggled to deduce who killed poor, perpetually-murdered Mr. Black (or “Mr. Boddy” in North American versions)– and have read the children’s books, played the video and iPod/iPhone games, put together the jig saw puzzles, and seen the television games shows, the Broadway musical, and the feature film all based on the game.

Readers can trace the evolution of the game here (from whence, the images above) or here, and can discover the (surprisingly complex) back-stories of the characters here.

As we adjust our deerstalkers, we might recall that it was on this date in 2007 that the continuity of America’s longest-running television game show, The Price Is Right, was maintained, as Bob Barker passed the microphone to Drew Carey.  Barker had taken over in 1972 from founding host Bill Cullen, who premiered the show in 1956.

Carey and Barker (source)

 

Increase your vocabulary!…

If, as Dr. Johnson suggested, “Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language,”  Wordnik is a veritable Santa’s sack…  One can watch the language evolve before one’s very eyes:

As we mind our p’s and q’s, we might we might recall that it was on this date in 1993– a bad day for word games–that both of the broadcast series “Scattergories” and “Scrabble” aired for the last time on NBC, effectively marking the end of the brief vogue for adapting popular board games into television quiz shows (the trend before and after being in the other direction:  television to board)…

Scrabble’s TV logo

Your correspondent is turning to some family business for the next few days, a period during which these missives will likely be more roughly than daily.  Apologies.

Written by LW

June 11, 2009 at 12:01 am

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