I thought about the game MonopolyTM this morning. This is a fun and methodical game that teaches the values of competition. And as I discuss it, let's remember it is only a game -- so please don't interpret that I am calling for a boycott on Hasbro or anything. I will still play it with my family (when we have a spare 10 hours).
However, I over-analyzed the process of the game, as I have a tendency to do on so many things. I considered that there is no wear-and-tear costs, no maintenance expenses to all those properties one acquires. How silly to think one could buy property, invest in it and then it merely becomes a cash-cow without further expense or re-investment. After all, there is a total cost of ownership to things and this game completely overlooks that important aspect of business and finance.
Of course, then my brain jumped to question what is this game teaching those who play it. In the end, the goal is to bankrupt your opponents by out-playing and out-witting them. Okay, competition is a good tool and an important one to master, but self-promotion at the expense of the total destruction of others isn't really an ethic I'd like my children to gain. But then, it's just a game; right?
I started to imagine a different board game, one where the goal was to help the other players rather than to decimate them. Of course, I didn't want this to be an unrealistic, rose-tinted, Pollyanna-styled game, where doing something nice was overly simply, without sacrifice and scored high. It also should not be an ego-based loss of honor such as the reciprocal-gift-giving tales of ancient Chinese culture.
There needed to be pragmatic strategy and actual challenge to it as well -- you know, much like life. I recall my father telling me countless times about my childhood sports career that the purpose of athletics is to recognize its simulation of life. That truth I have come to understand on many levels as I have grown older (and hopefully wiser). But yes, I wanted to exhibit that same concept in this hypothetical game I had begun to imagine.
To accomplish this, the game would be similar to MonopolyTM in that players would have to acquire things for themselves as personal player-possessions in the game. The help given to others could only be performed by having the means to do so. Helping is nice and of course important even on small scales, but if ideas of corporate responsibility and community investment were to be subtly learned through such a game, then being self-sufficient in the game and saving extra to give back would have to be the core strategy.
Imagine with me a new board game, where the importance of capitalism, self-reliance, personal-responsibility and being a producer were key methods to success, but the scoring and measurement of success was based on selflessness and charity. This would teach that to help others one must have his or her own strengths, that we must secure our own oxygen mask before aiding someone else with theirs and that actions that in one context appear selfish may ultimately be a means of great philanthropy.
I think this is a game I would want for my family.
I think this is a game I would want for my business and government leaders.