March 14, 2010

Santa brought the family a board game this Christmas: Earthopoly.


It’s a green-themed variation on the classic board game, Monopoly.  I don’t like playing Monopoly.  It makes me tense and unhappy.  My son is an avid Monopoly player.  When he was a bit younger he would even play Monopoly against himself (he won). 

Tonight, after dinner, we opened up the Earthopoly set.  Those in the know (my son and husband) say the rules are the same as for Monopoly – I’ll take their words for it.  Obviously the setting is different.  This isn’t the heart of NYC – this is the world.  If you land on a place you can pay for it so you can become the caretaker (or others can bid on it if you don’t want it) – when you get a set of places denoted by the same color leaf then you can start “developing” it by buying carbon credits and clean air credits (the Earthopoly alternative to houses and hotels).  You don’t go to the jail – you go to The Dump.  And you don’t pas Home you Go Green!  but you still collect $200.

OK, a side note, when I give my lecture on problem solving I often point out how difficult an abstract problem can be, but if you frame the same problem in concrete, familiar terms, suddenly it is not so difficult.  So, back to Monopoly and Earthopoly.  I am not a real estate mogul – the whole Monopoly thing was just too abstract for me – too far out of my reality.  But Earthopoly – I can understand wanting to be the caretaker of natural places.

As you buy carbon credits for a place the rent goes up astronomically.  My husband had paid for Mother Earth and ended up buying her 4 carbon credits, which cranked the rent up to over $1400.  When he cashed in the carbon credits and bought a clean air credit instead he bankrupted his little daughter. (Nice, huh?)

I had my properties split between a pretty cheap spread and a moderately expensive section.  Long story short, we ended the game with my daughter’s bankruptcy and while it was very close, it appears that I actually won.

I pondered the capitalistic yet environmental slant to the game.  Was it goofy or realistic?  Well, clearly it is oversimplified, but I don’t think it’s wholly goofy either.  Even if the world doesn’t go the way of carbon credits, there will be/already are plenty of people making money off the greening of the world.  I’ll have my own solar panels soon (fingers crossed) and you can bet your bottom dollar those aren’t being given to me free.  And, I’m not getting them so I can pay more on my utilities either. And the local wind farm?  That wasn’t put up to lose money?  The Obama administration is betting a good deal that the Green Economy will take off soon.  Earthopoly is on the right track.

The main surprise I had, though, was that I had fun!  I really enjoyed it.  Maybe because I could understand the underlying concepts and found the basis of the game interesting.  Or maybe it was just because I won. 

By the way, the game is totally recyclable.  The tokens are all natural products, wood, bamboo, a lima bean, a piece of giant corn, a crystal, and a semi-precious stone, Carnelian – that was me.  And I saved, I mean Santa saved some resources on the game itself – it was on clearance at a grocery store. 



  1. Looks fun! I’m not a big fan of monopoly either, but I’d play that!

  2. My hubby got this for me on V-day. I like the lack of smell when you open the box and how little plastic there is!

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