Competition creates friction
The microcosm of Monopoly is a vicious, dog-eat-dog world in which each player fends for himself. Since the game incentivizes selfishness and aggression, it breeds conflict amongst family members.
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The Monopoly board is a lawless land, where all extant alliances are called off, and friends and family alike turn on each other for fake money. Of course, the chaos this game causes begs the question: what gives Monopoly its relationship-destroying powers? The answer is simple: Monopoly forces families to compete with each other. Though some competition can be healthy, the rivalries that arise during Monopoly games are anything but. As we see in the worlds of sports, business, and even dating, competition heightens preexisting relational strains, causing conflict to rise to the surface of a group more easily. This can be observed as fights about seemingly trivial things break out during board game night. What’s a game of Monopoly without somebody angrily whipping out the instruction manual to prove a point? In addition, competition encourages people to adopt selfish, bordering on survivalist, mindsets. At some point in nearly every game of Monopoly, it is no longer about having fun; winning is all that matters, familial relationships be damned. As an innocent game of Monopoly becomes more like Lord of the Flies, players tend to take on an “every-man-for-himself” attitude, doing whatever it takes to win. Hold onto your game piece, because stuff is about to get real-and, in all likelihood, someone is going to end up yelling, crying, or both. Clearly, Monopoly takes healthy competition to an unhealthy level, earning its notoriety for destroying families.
An atmosphere of competition isn't unique to Monopoly. From chess to poker to tennis, every game requires some level of competition, or it wouldn't be considered a game at all. Though excessive competitiveness could lead to an unpleasant experience playing Monopoly, the same could be said for any game. Clearly, it must be another factor that gives Monopoly its knack for destroying relationships.