Written by Erica Liaw

Do You Want to Play a Game? 

Hasbro, Inc. is introducing the first-ever game in the Monopoly franchise that celebrates women trailblazers with Ms. Monopoly, reads a statement released by Hasbro, company of card game Monopoly. Ms. Monopoly, the “first game where women make more than men” aims to empower women by reflecting the gender pay gap issue. Within the game, female players have a higher income than male counterparts by receiving $1,900 at the start of the game, and getting $240 each time they pass “Go”. The male players receive a lower $1,500 and $200 respectively.

In Reality:

While the rules of Ms. Monopoly may serve to open up conversations of equality to the young children, critics have called out the game for virtue-signaling, catering to the market of liberal politics through the corporatisation of social issue. Notably, this is not the first time that the issue of pay gap has been raised in advertisement of products.

“If money can solve a problem, it’s actually a really small problem,” said Amy Peng, an associate professor in the department of economics at Ryerson University. Critics also attacked the game for oversimplifying the issue of gender pay gap by suggesting that being a woman is a disability that necessitates an overcompensation in the game.  

“It’s unhelpful to portray women as needing special advantages,” said Christine Sypnowich, a feminist scholar.

Social media critics also pointed out the misogynistic undertones that is clouding the rules of the game, that the game focuses on the invention of “chocolate chip cookies and shapewear” despite women inventing the computer algorithm, discovering DNA and stem cell isolation. 

The Issue:

Ironically, the game downplays the contribution of its actual creator, Lizzie Magie. The dominant narrative directed by Hasbro is instead a “rags to riches” biography of a man named Charles Darrow. Introduced to Lizzie Magie’s game, “The Landlord’s Game”, from a friend, he “evolved the original concept into his own game”, creating Monopoly. Lizzie Magie was barely mentioned, if so, credited as a designer of a failed game.

Erica Liaw is an NUS Political Science student. In her free time, she enjoys screaming in the shower and consuming caffeine in cinemas. If you see her walking around in circles, she’s either lost due to a poor sense of direction or she is cooling down after a run. Although Erica may look like a millennial, she is a bargain-hunter auntie at heart.

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