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Monopoly Makeover

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

The familiar tokens from the Monopoly board game have gotten a modern—and some might say, mercenary—makeover. Five of the eight tokens in the new Monopoly Here & Now edition have been styled after name-brand products. (It's being sold alongside the original edition.) Players now get the chance to be represented by miniature versions of a Toyota Prius hybrid car, an order of McDonald's fries, a New Balance running shoe, a cup of Starbucks coffee, or a Motorola Razr cell phone. The branded tokens are part of a reinvention of Monopoly that Hasbro, the game's maker, hopes will offer consumers modernized references more relevant to them than the elements of a game that dates to the Great Depression. Until now, there has been little evidence of commercial trappings in traditional board games. The arrival of such elements worries some people. To one critic, it "turns Monopoly into a giant advertisement."

—Stuart Elliott [9/12/06]