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Cashless board game teaches few lessons

Like most college students, time management is an integral part of my day.
With work, school, this, that and the other thing, it’s often difficult to gather much time to just kick back, relax and watch TV.
But after a commercial I recently saw, I’m starting to think maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
While watching an episode of the Simpsons the other day – some things you have to make time for – I saw what I thought was a pretty standard advertisement for the game Monopoly.
Everybody has seen these commercials at one time or another – a happy family circled around the game board at the kitchen table, laughing about the fact Dad just landed on Junior’s estate at Marvin Gardens and now owes him something like $20 million.
However, this commercial ended frighteningly different than the others.
Instead of Dad handing over a rainbow of different bills to pay off his debt, he grabs a debit card and swipes it at the game’s “control center” in the middle of the board. The computerized banker then flashes Dad’s balance, and the family goes on laughing like they just heard a fun-for-all-ages Wayne Brady joke.
The ad was for a completely cashless version of the game in which all players use these cards as their currency. The “banker” keeps track of each card’s balance, and the game goes on as usual.
Wow.
Is this really the message we want to be sending right now?
Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but buying property with the bank’s money has gotten us into a little bit of trouble recently. Although this does set itself up beautifully for “Sub-prime Monopoly,” where the bank eventually repossesses the entire board and you end up working at Kinko’s.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of playing conventional Monopoly, is the great teaching tool it provides.
Many parents, including my own, used this game as a fun way to teach kids about money and breaking it up into different amounts, depending on how much you owed or needed to collect.
This version teaches kids to pass the responsibility of keeping track of their own money on to some ominous higher power, rather than do it themselves.
It’s tough, but I suppose I can see the idea behind this game. Credit and debit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, and their popularity certainly isn’t on the decline.
So if we are going to start constructing our supposedly simple board games to prepare children for what the real world might be like, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to unveil my new version of The Game of Life.
Life: The Lesson in Recession Version 
Like the cashless version of Monopoly, this game would lay out very similarly to the original, but with some minor adjustments.
The first small difference is in the game pieces. Rather than the gender-restricting blue and pink pieces, all players will use a much more exciting mute gray piece, which will help cut down on discrimination.
Next, instead of driving that ridiculous, impractical Mini-van/SUV-looking thing, players will have the option of choosing from three different hybrids, which get much better gas mileage. I know the price of gas is down right now, but we cannot allow our four and five-year-olds to believe that to be a luxury they will have.
The beginning of the game will also be touched-up a little bit. Players will still have the choice of starting out in college or heading straight to the workforce, but those who don’t know what they want to do after school have another option.
If the right job doesn’t come along within the first few turns, you may hide out from your angry parents in the local Starbucks, waiting to see if your screenplay gets picked up.
This doesn’t usually turn out well for the player.
Family life has changed a lot since this game was invented in 1960, but not to worry, I’ve given my version a much-needed update.
With teenage pregnancy becoming more and more prevalent, 53 people out of every 1,000 that play the game – the current teen pregnancy rate – will start off with one child.
Also, with the adolescent obesity rate climbing ever higher, more “Life tiles” that say things like “Grocery Shopping: Pay $1,100” will be thrown into the mix.
More modifications are still in the works, including the dismembering of the retirement program – which will be completely unrealistic by 2075 – and the addition of an Avian Bird Flu Pandemic. This is the world these children will be living in, so they might as well get ready.
Obviously this idea is a little far-fetched, but if the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that kids are growing up faster than ever, while parents stand by idly as childhoods continue to get shorter. 
A cashless Monopoly game may not be the apocalypse some believe it will be, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a step in the right direction.
D.J. Piehowski is a junior journalism major from Genoa. He is the Scout sports reporter.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to dpiehowski@mail.bradley.edu
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