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Peeropoly: The boardgame of abundance, prosperity, and plenty.

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  • Sasha
    Published with Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Licence http://freedomofscience.org/?page_id=21 Peeropoly: The boardgame of abundance, prosperity,
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2009
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      Published with Creative Commons
      Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Licence
      http://freedomofscience.org/?page_id=21


      Peeropoly: The boardgame of abundance, prosperity, and plenty.

      After attending enough conferences and watching the eyes of venture
      capitalists and other investors glaze over at the mention of Open
      Source applied to biotechnology, it was clearly time to devise a
      teaching tool to explain the economics of sharing nicely.

      The best way is to create a game so simple even a child, or a VC,
      could understand! This project, to distill the essence of Peer
      Production into an abstract set of rules, sharpens our own
      understanding and forces us to convey the ideas clearly and compellingly.

      History: The world's most popular board game, the aptly and as we will
      see ironically named Monopoly, was, as it turns out, also originally
      devised as a teaching tool. In 1974, Ralph Anspach invented the
      Anti-Monopoly game. The incredible story of his decade long legal
      battle with Parker Brothers, a battle in which he uncovered the truth
      about the history of Monopoly, that the game itself was an unfair
      monopoly, stolen from an earlier game invented by Quakers and in the
      public domain for years, is summarized at http://www.antimonopoly.com/.

      His riveting book, The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle

      is highly recommended.

      Concept: Just as the original Monopoly predecessor, called the
      Landlord's Game and Prosperity, was intended to teach economics,
      namely Henry George's theory of the single tax on unearned rent from
      appreciation of land values that the landlord effortlessly and thus
      unjustly captured, Peeropoly will teach the emerging economics of Peer
      Production.

      At heart, Monopoly is supposed to be a satire of the excesses of
      capitalism. Players are supposed to understand that the winner is the
      "most successful villain." In practice, the game has led to an
      unintended glorification of monopoly. To correct this, Maggie
      Phillips, inventor of the first landlord's game, created another
      called the Landlord's Game and Prosperity. The key innovation was the
      the choice to vote to change the rules of play by majority consensus
      at any time during play. Once the players learned that the first rule
      set, the standard winner take all game, made one player rich but
      impoverished the rest, they would logically vote to play under the
      second set, in which all unearned gains were redistributed to the
      community. This was not anti-capitalist, players still kept income
      from houses or improvements they made on the land, just not from the
      title itself.

      Mr. Anspach's Anti-Monopoly game went through several versions.
      Originally he created a game whose theme was to "bust the trust." The
      board started out in the hands of monopolists and the goal was to
      break up ownership and create true free enterprise. Later, he modified
      the game so that players start in the normal Monopoly way, but can
      play as monopolists or competitors, illustrating the difference
      between a free market and a monopoly in real estate.

      Plan: The design process will itself be an instance of peer
      production. Our game will draw on the previous concepts from the
      Landlord's game and Anti-Monopoly. We imagine a game in which players
      compete and cooperate to develop natural/energy, scientific, and
      cultural resources. Players can adopt a monopolist or a peer strategy.
      They will acquire intellectual property certificates over resources
      such as the human genome, the broadcast spectrum, oil sites, etc.

      The following rules are speculative at this point: just brainstorming.
      There are many things to work out depending on how we devise the
      victory conditions. The Landlord's game ended when the poorest player
      obtained twice as much money as had been distributed to the individual
      players at the beginning, thus illustrating that prosperity had been
      achieved. The main fun of Monopoly is the ruthless 0 sum drive to
      destroy your opponents. We have to figure out how to capture this
      excitement in the context of rules that demonstrate the virtues of
      sharing nicely. Essentially the game must show that while monopoly is
      good for the monopolists, it is very unstable and dangerous for us
      all. Thus, game events such as oil shocks, avian flu, or crop
      devastation because of a monoculture's vulnerability to
      pests/pathogens, will demonstrate the danger of monopoly. Some way to
      measure the player who creates the most wealth (is responsible for the
      most development) rather than acquires the most, would be ideal.

      If you land on a space controlled by a monopolist you must pay rent
      unless you try to infringe, at which point you "go to court" and just
      like in real life, essentially "roll the dice" to determine the
      outcome. If the monopolist doesn't like the outcome, they can pay more
      and roll again–just like in real life where he who hires the most
      lawyers usually wins. These legal battles can quickly cost a lot,
      meaning that players will typically just pay the tax/rent. If a
      monopoly is found invalid, the property is back in the public domain
      and open for development under a Peer strategy. Monopolists will pay
      dearly to preserve control as each monopoly property pays large
      amounts of rent while a Peer owned property simply generates a modest
      amount of income per turn. However, Peers do not pay rent to one
      another, and can benefit from improving their properties.

      Obviously we could quickly make a game that is too complicated which
      defeats the purpose. Thus we are soliciting many ideas in the forums
      and will narrow it down.

      Seeking: a core dedicated team of rule designers and testers is
      needed. When the rules have been devised they need to be balanced and
      play tested. This can be done by having a computer play the game a few
      thousand times. There is actually quite a lot of probability work
      involved in the original game as to which squares are most often
      landed on and thus most valuable to own.

      We also need someone with artistic ability. There is a make your own
      "opoly" kit that can be a starting point. http://www.tdcgames.com/MYO.htm

      Also a Microsoft satire game, called micropoly is at micropoly.com.
      The project does not seem to be active but there is some material to
      download and examine.

      Finally, we need some programmers on the team as it makes sense to
      build a computer version of the game both for testing purposes and
      eventual release with the prototype for a board game.

      Please come to the forum to contribute ideas.
    • Meredith L. Patterson
      ... A thought -- what if the spaces on the board represent not real property in the sense of land, but instead intellectual properties , e.g., patented
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 2, 2009
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        On Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 12:30 AM, Sasha <mrkflux@...> wrote:
        > If you land on a space controlled by a monopolist you must pay rent
        > unless you try to infringe, at which point you "go to court" and just
        > like in real life, essentially "roll the dice" to determine the
        > outcome. If the monopolist doesn't like the outcome, they can pay more
        > and roll again–just like in real life where he who hires the most
        > lawyers usually wins. These legal battles can quickly cost a lot,
        > meaning that players will typically just pay the tax/rent. If a
        > monopoly is found invalid, the property is back in the public domain
        > and open for development under a Peer strategy.

        A thought -- what if the spaces on the board represent not "real
        property" in the sense of land, but instead "intellectual properties",
        e.g., patented ideas? You could then, instead of having groups of
        streets which give a bonus if you control all of them, have groups of
        *ideas* which give a bonus if the owner holds all of them, e.g.,
        holding a horizontal monopoly. Possible groups might include
        Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Transportation,
        Communications, Mining, and so on and so forth.

        This would also allow for the notion of vertical monopolies, e.g.
        relationships between technologies in different industries for which
        it is of benefit to a single person to control them all. For instance,
        it might be of benefit for a single player to control Oil Drilling
        (Chemical Engineering), Railroads (Transportation), and Coal (Mining),
        as the owner can sell diesel fuel to himself at cost to power his
        trains, which he then uses to transport his coal to the market at
        cost.

        Taking this approach makes the game a bit more complex, but more
        realistically describes the cross-industry relationships which
        characterise modern economics, and could provide a very realistic
        demonstration to players of just how damaging it is for a single
        business entity to control a particular industry, since "vertical
        monopolists" would want to prevent the establishment of horizontal
        monopolies and vice versa.

        Cheers,
        --mlp
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