Friday, November 06, 2009

Monopoly brings Free Parking back to Belfast in time for Christmas

Monopoly card lying on floor from Belfast edition - Waterfront Hall

Belfast got its very own Monopoly board today with the launch of the latest city edition in the Waterfront Hall.

A Northern Ireland edition was brought out about ten years ago, but eighteen months ago, the makers returned to Belfast to consult with tourist organisations, the media and local people to come up with a short list of locations.

Monopoly board for the new Belfast edition

Mark Marriott, the creator of the Belfast board for Winning Moves Ltd, insisted that in a world of computer games and on-screen entertainment, there was still a place for board games in homes - both locally and also with ex-pats. He’d better be right, otherwise the Belfast edition will gather dust in Belfast city centre retail outlets and Amazon’s warehouse.

Asked about the significance of the value of different sites, Marriott said that “we don’t try to rank them too much”. So don’t expect deprivation to be marked out on the cheapest brown sites (Linen Hall Library and Custom House Square take those spots). And the Malone Road doesn’t feature in the high value blue sites. Instead the City Hall comes in at M350 (“M” being the Monopoly money currency) and the top spot at M400 goes to Parliament Buildings Stormont!

Belfast Monopoly board

While the landmarks have changed, the rules are standard and the player tokens are familiar. They didn’t take the opportunity to swap the top hat for a bowler hat!

In fact, despite playing down the sensitivities, it is clear that the Belfast board creator steered well clear of potential controversy.

“Obviously we are aware of the history of Belfast and we don’t want to ignore that but also we want to focus on the things that are collective in Belfast for everybody.”

Later, Marriott added that it was about “unification not polarisation”. When challenged why well known landmarks like the Falls Road and Shankill Road were missing, he played down the omission, saying that people hadn’t really asked for those locations.

With our local diversity of sporting pursuits, a single colour wasn’t sufficient to accommodate everything, so while the pinky/purple spots are taken by Belfast Giants, Ravenhill and Casement Park, Windsor Park sneaks onto the neighbouring orange spaces, along with the Ulster Hall and the CS Lewis Centenary Statue at Holywood Arches.

Local commercial media outlets got to sponsor the Chance and Community Chest spots, which will help enormously with publicising the Belfast board’s launch. Disappointingly, Free Parking isn’t sponsored by NCP!

Of course, the real fun of the launch was watching the local press photographers come up with ever more creative ways of getting a fun shot of what was essentially a very straightforward story:

“Board game company boost sales with launch of localised city version (fourth this year) in time for Christmas shopping.”

So there were top hats, giant dice, tossing money in the air, and much lying on the floor to get a good angle.

tossing dice to launch the Belfast edition of MonopolyGetting the perfect shot?Eventually they got teh Belfat board's creator - Mark Marriott - to toss the money in the air

Update - The Belfast Telegraph editor shares a few thoughts on the new edition ...


John Self said...

What a boring board! The original Monopoly had character because of all the road names - Old Kent Road and The Angel, Islington, Pall Mall and Bond Street, Park Lane and Mayfair. This one doesn't have any street names on it (except University Road and DOn Sq E)! Never mind the Shankill or Falls, where's Royal Avenue or Lisburn Road? Where's the sense of old and new? It's all Custom House Square and Belfast Giants. Ugh. (And how exactly do you build a hotel on Belfast Giants, or on the C.S. Lewis Centenary Statue? Or isn't that how Monopoly works any longer?

I think I'll stick with the original Belfast Monopoly - the blue-and-yellow rip-off board game delight that was Current Assets. Anyone else remember that?

Virtual Methodist said...

demolishing Parliament Buildings to erect houses and another hotel... now there's a way to make Stormont pay!

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Back in March last year, when the possibility of the Belfast edition was discussed on Slugger, Moochin Photoman came up with some excellent Community Chest cards:

* Trip on a pavement. Receive £500 compensation.
* Your car was broken into pay £250
* Spides mug you in the street. Miss your next roll as you spend the night in the Royal.
* You and your mates are in a RTA. Receive £1000 compensation.

Timothy Belmont said...

I agree with John Self. We have an old original Monopoly board with all the bits and pieces - top hat, shoe, battleship etc.

In this instance, I think they have diversified too much; still, that's a commercial judgement of theirs.

I'll stick to the Original and Best London version!


Jonathan Magee said...

I still have one of the Northern Ireland ones unopened in the roofspace. We got them cheap through work as we featured on one of the squares

Lee Munroe said...

That is one ugly looking Monopoly board. Thought this was going to be better, and as mentioned it would be cool to see some roads in there. Not fond of the sponsors either - makes it look tacky. Pity.