Before Monopoly became the world’s bestselling board game about real estate, it was first a didactic tool for communicating a socialist economic theory to the masses. The theory, as laid out by Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty (1881), critiques the relationship between property ownership and rents in the early industrial city. George laments that, as long as land is held as private property, material progress will lead to land speculation, inflated property value, and higher rents. In order to temper the negative effects of speculation he proposes that states levy a land value tax, also known as a single tax, which he argues would keep property value, and therefore also rents, in check.
This paper provides the theoretical context for a game we are developing named Mallopolis (Fig. 4). Like Lizzie Magie we propose to use the game environment as a popular medium to immerse players in the competitive machinations of market speculation that has shaped contemporary cities, and as a fictive tool through which more equitable futures to such processes may be considered. Mallopolis, though, differs in how such an alternative reality is explored. The nationalizing of land in Magie’s game was perhaps too radical of a departure from the market reality it sought to engage. Below we explore the relevance of George’s ideas in the economic and spatial context of North American megalopolitan regions today and the possibility of using a board game as a medium to elucidate and imagine alternatives to such conditions.
 Henry George, on whose theories the original game was based, is considered by many not to be a socialist. His politics are somewhat ambiguous. However, his theory is about socialization, or nationalization of land value, and so by inference, of land.
 This brief description derives from the succinct summary George provides in the introduction to his book. Henry George, Progress and Poverty, edited and abridged by Robert Drake (New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 2005), XVI.
Michael Piper & Zoé Renaud (2018) Mallopolis: A Board Game About Megalopolitan Urbanization, The MIT Press, Thresholds, NO. 46, 88-101