Friday, June 18, 2010

The Days of Monopoly

For as long as I can remember I have had an absolute love of the game Monopoly. Yesterday, while at the Joplin office, I saw a game of Monopoly in session and a huge smile formed on my face as I remembered the days of Monopoly.

I had a family that I was friends with in Indianapolis that I grew up with and even
though I lived in Saint Louis it seemed as if I spent just as much time at their house. These trips were crucial in my development because the days of Monopoly brought out my social side.

If you could have seen me before a game of Monpoly at their house and during the game you would have been quite confused. Just as I have said about the need for direction, playing the game gave me direction. My level of comfort would go up by an unmeasurable percentage and I began to talk.

I would talk before the game, but it was forced and labored, but during the game I was as slick as a used car salesman. Trading was my specialty and I am sure I would have been guilty of "badgering the witness" had this been a courtroom.

Perhaps my trading and negotiating skills were harsh, but as the title card of Donald Trump's television show "The Apprentice" says, "It's not personal, it's business". Harsh or not, playing the many games I had allowed me to talk. I felt comfortable in a social setting.

When we moved to Saint Louis in 1993 I was in shock. I could easily have conversations about auto racing in Indianapolis (where we moved from) but I was in shock that, in Saint Louis, people generally only care about the sport if the home team wears red and the sport is played with a bat. My conversational tactics that worked in Indianapolis had no chance of working here in Saint Louis so I became rather quiet in school. That being so I looked forward to my trips to Indianapolis from months in advance.

I've tried to count how many games we played during all those years and it has to be in the hundreds. We had so many games; one that sticks out in my mind was where we started with five players, got done to two, and had a perfect storm that neither he nor I could win. We had to break out the $1,000 and $5,000 bills from "The Game of Life" because we had so much cash on hand and the $500's were out. The game ended in a tie as we said we had developed the "perfect economy".

While it may be the games I remember, it is the end result of where I am still experiencing. Had we not gone back to Indianapolis as many times as I did I don't know where I would be right now. It may have been intermittent but it allowed me to know that I was able to talk, I was able to socialize.

I was always kidded that I was only happy if I won, and that wasn't the case. I had to play hard to stay in the game, but winning wasn't about having Boardwalk, or Baltic (my personal favorite) or my obsession with buying all the $1's from the bank but rather winning was simply playing the game. I could practice talking, negotiating, and during a game the need to understand initial social cues is eliminated and since I get caught up with that aspect of life having that aspect be not in play was valuable.

It's been forever since I played a game of Monopoly in person. I played one game online last year and naturally won, but it wasn't the same. Monopoly is a social game and playing online just isn't the same.

It's been forever though and I don't know if I will ever experience those days of Monopoly again. As sad as this makes me it isn't a total loss. Everyday I live I still have the positive effects of all those games and for that I am so grateful.


  1. For individuals with autism, it maybe hard to transfer skills you learn from one setting to another. One thing I counteract that is to take some time to feel the environment out and then adjust from there.

    I will mention an example. I have been to 3 American Occupational Therapy Association conferences in 3 different cities the last 3 years- held in Orlando, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. They are 3 different cities. Also, the people I potentially meet were different. Finally, the workshops and posters were definitely different. How I counteracted that was- I felt out the conference atmosphere in Orlando. Then, I was a bit bolder when I went to Philadelphia. The one in Indianapolis, I was even bolder than when I was in Philadelphia. I personally didn't see them as 3 separate situations. I saw each of them as opportunities to be more productive than the one before. The one in San Diego coming up... that will be an opportunity to top my performance in Indianapolis.

  2. Ok, I don't have any great insights to how Monopoly relates to Autism or anything, but you just reminded me of the months long game that a friend of mine and I had going on one school year. We started one morning before school (junior high so we must have been only 12 or 13 at the time) and went on for almost 3 months. We played every morning before school for 15 to 20 minutes. I remember borrowing heavily from the bank at times and to this day I don't remember who actually won or if we just called it quits eventually when the weather turned good and we decided to play outside instead. Thanks for bringing up that great memory!