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