Monopoly is deemed as ‘racist’ in my house | Alun Newman

Hats off to the Board Game Designers. They have the unenviable task of constantly trying to re-imagine the classics without removing the original joy (held mainly by adults).

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 9:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 9:54 am
Alun’s mother-in-law was not impressed with Monopoly Voice Banking.

There’s an electronic ‘fast deal’ Uno for card lovers. There’s Star Wars Dobble for the memory game fans. Connect 4 Shots for those people who really wanted to throw something and play Connect 4 (niche market but someone’s obviously buying it).

My daughter and wife are passionate fans of the classic Monopoly. Both the aforementioned parties get into the ‘zone’ when playing and it’s game faces on. They also become hard work if they’re not winning but we’ll save that for another time.

Monopoly has had several different variations, most of which we own. There’s Millionaire, Empire, Star Trek, to name but a few of the 1,144 versions currently listed (True).

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The latest one in our home is Monopoly Voice Banking. In essence, it’s the same game but with no money and an Alexa-type device that does all the hard work when you speak to it. We love it. However, not everyone is such a fan.

We recently embarked on a game with the in-laws. This really highlighted the technical challenges that still face these multi-million pound companies. I’m sure they tested their game on regular Los Angeles cool cats but did they go far enough?

My mother-in-law is Lebanese with a beautiful, rich accent to match. My father-in-law is English and on most occasions refuses to put his teeth in. What should have been a beautiful bonding experience soon descended into chaos. The main sticking point being that Lebanese-English ‘I’ll buy it’ simply would not register.

However, Lebanese-English requesting ‘pay another player’ could be understood. Within about 20 minutes, my mother-in-law declared the game racist. An accusation we take seriously in my family. Had I purchased a racist board game?

I attempted to mediate and advise clearer enunciation but this was met with a short shrift. Telling someone with an accent different to your own to speak clearly goes down like a sack of spuds in the north Atlantic.

This would have been enough for one disastrous board game but my father-in-law accused prejudice. Why should he have to put his teeth in to play Monopoly? This was his first, but my no means last, question about this version of rebooted fun.

T he game descended into further chaos as different people attempted to come up with solutions and clearer ways of communicating with the game.

In the end, my mother-in-law instructed me to speak to the machine, as she was now on strike due to the humiliation. My son took on the responsibility of my father-in-law, who’s speech seemed to get progressively worse as if to prove a point.

I tip my hat to these game developers. Burdened with the task of global consumerism, having to constantly recreate something that was perfect from the start and now seems to be a version of ‘nearly as good’.

That aside, I still enjoyed it and anything that gathers a group of people who love each other together, to then fall out is still better than never gathering at all.

Just for the record, neither my daughter or my wife flinched during this whole debacle and after a close-knit contest, my wife won with more than £7,000 in the bank.

Even in the midst of wild accusations of racism, it is still a must-win situation.

My water bill is never-ending

I have received an email from my water company. It started with ‘Hi Mr Newman’ which I did not like.

A company worth more than £800 million should not start with ‘Hi’.

That aside, it was a useful email to advise me that they’d looked at my water consumption (they being an algorithm) and wanted to let me know that I’m using 40 per cent more, on average, than a family of the same size.

Or, what this equates to is this: ‘Hi Mr Newman, your teenage son is using a massive amount of water having showers that seem to have no conceivable end.

‘Thought we’d let you know that he’s costing you a fortune. Good luck with that one and we’ll keep taking the money.’

I’ve tried banging on the bathroom door for three, six and nine minute intervals but this has little impact.

Unlike the internet, I can’t just switch it off. I’m stuck. I couldn’t think of a way to appease the cash burning situation.

A change of tack was required. So I wrote: ‘Hi (water company), thanks for the heads up. A little while ago my teenage son stopped washing completely and refused to get his haircut. Trust me when I say this, over-washing and super-grooming is far better on pretty much every level. Do please change my direct debit I’ll take the hit’.