Anyone who has ever played Monopoly will know it’s less a board game, more a device used to kick off fierce debates, family arguments and accusations of cheating.
A new version of the game, however, plans to diffuse the tension by introducing a voice controlled, AI banker which is incapable of cheating.
Some may say this will take the fun out of the whole thing, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be the banker you’ll be familiar with the addictive rush of power it gives you. On the other hand, it may mean we finally get to see how the game is actually supposed to end, rather than the traditional throwing of the board across the room in a fit of rage we’ve all become accustomed to.
With the rise of AIs at an alarming rate, most households these days have either a Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant or something similar to help them out when they can’t remember the name of something.
Now, the iconic board game is jumping on the band wagon. It’s not the first to do so, as other games have introduced digital assistants as time keepers, score checkers and quiz masters. However, most of these need access to a smartphone or Wi-Fi network, which can raise privacy issues.
To combat this, Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly, are said to be including a smart assistant which doesn’t need Wi-Fi, according to Gizmodo.
The new version of the game will be hitting shelves in July, and will cost around $10 more than the basic version.
The virtual assistant will be voiced by Monopoly’s longstanding mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, or Mr. Monopoly to you and me. However, it seems Mr. Monopoly isn’t as smart as Alexa or Siri, as users will be able to identify themselves using one of four buttons on the top of the speaker, and then make verbal requests (such as ‘buy that hotel!’).
The game is also firmly entering the modern age, as physical cash isn’t included – we’ve gone contactless baby! So no more sneaking a few notes under the table, unfortunately.
The new smart assistant should therefore speed up the game a bit, eliminate (some) cheating, and make sure people pay their rent on time. It won’t of course, stop the inevitable tables flips when someone loses, but that’s just part of the fun.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.