AUGUST 1998 |
UP NEXT | CyberSex
KEVIN RIDOLFI, a graphic designer and HTML programmer from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is the creator and editor of Renaissance Online Magazine.
ILLUSTRATION by J. Robert LeClair of Pawtucket, RI. View his resume.
Monopoly: Bill Gates' Favorite Board Game
You may have noticed a curious influx of Bill Gates' articles in the morning paper recently. Bill Gates is being investigated for this, Microsoft is getting audited for that. Let me be the one to add the ominous soundtrack: Bill Gates is coming for you.
At long last, I was able to put my journalist training to good use: I created a lead paragraph with tension at the end. Now that you are properly drawn in, let me back up and paint a picture of Billy Gates, age 7.
Billy loved playing Monopoly. In fact he was officially classified as a Monopoly addict by a well-respected direct-mail psychiatrist named Dr. K. L. Roy. Roy diagnosed Billy after Mrs. Gates sent a picture of her little boy, his prescription for Coke-bottle glasses and seven Special K cereal box tops. The good doctor mailed back Billy's fate: "the boy is driven to monopolize...and receive atomic wedgies for the first 14 years of his schooling."
Roy hit the nail on the head (as he often did since his formal training was in carpentry). At nine-years-old, Billy bought out Dr. Roy's mail order business after careful investment of his daily milk money in stocks. Roy was a blue chip investment at $1.14. Immediately Billy put Roy to work as the official banker for his living room Monopoly conquests.
In high school, despite being run up the flagpole by the waistband of his briefs 16 times during his freshman year, William (as he called himself to impress chicks) started the first true business of his career: "Beat on me for a dollar." He actually got bullies to give him a dollar each time they wanted to knock him senseless. He even had a money-back guarantee if his glasses weren't knocked off his face during the pummeling. Call it panache or great marketing. Call it whatever you like. But William cleaned up. Soon he was the only nerd in school getting beat up -- his first industry monopoly.
By the time he was a senior, Gates held many business in the palm of his hand. "Pay me not to ask you out." "Intellivision repair." At one point, Gates uttered these truly prophetic words: "there is no conceivable reason for a hard drive to be larger than 64K." Chalk it up to smart marketing for his Commodore Consulting Business.
Finally, Bill's monopolizing heart is getting him into trouble. His name and that of his evil bastard child, Microsoft, are being smeared across the headlines. His Internet Explorer browser is coming under firing because of its package's simple tag line: "Netscape sucks and besides we made sure it wouldn't work right with Windows anyway." Needless to say, the average Windows user now cowers in fear whenever they see the Netscape "N" anywhere near their computer.
Gates has the nasty habit of buying up small companies until there is no competition for Microsoft. Some would call this tactic smart business maneuvering, others point out that this is against the law. Monopolies are illegal. Understandably, Billy is confused. Parker Brothers put out the board game and no one complained. No one told him he wasn't supposed to like playing Monopoly. All he ever really wanted to do was push around a little metal shoe and collect $200. He had vivid adolescent dreams about driving that tiny car along Park Place with the wind whistling through his retainer and the Partridge Family 8-track dishing out hits.
No one told him it was wrong. And now Billy's in trouble. We should actually feel a little bit of pity for him. He was, after all, built by the system. A system that pushes kids to buy the utilities, buy up the land, and build houses and hotels. If you don't play properly or have enough money you could end up in jail.
And all Billy does now is put a few hundred small companies out of business. Small potatoes compared to the conquering of a little cardboard world with plastic houses. No one told him he could go to jail for "winning."
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