My kids are in high school and college now, and I don't have a lot of regrets about their dearth of board-game experience. Yes, video games like Halo and computer games like World of Warcraft are addictive, which is why parents must set limits. But there is also evidence that these games reinforce important concepts including teamwork, strategy, leadership and task completion.
Still, those are not money skills, per se. The core lessons in Monopoly revolve around budgeting and negotiating. Players learn to spot value, like the reliable cash flow from the Baltic and Mediterranean properties just past Go, and they learn the risks of bootstrapping into high-priced properties like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific avenues.
Playing Monopoly, I came to understand that you couldn't always trust the banker or trust others to bargain in good faith. The games I played were rife with collusion. Those were valuable lessons.
So, yes, when they were young I wish my kids had been a little more interested in board games like Monopoly, Risk and the Game of Life. Which brings me to the latest iteration of Monopoly. Due in the fall with a price tag of $50, Monopoly Live is designed for a YouTube Generation that doesn't want to read instructions and is used to steering game action with a lot of hand movement.
No dice; no play money. Players swipe a bankcard to keep track of their cash, and an all-knowing tower at the center of the board dictates the action and makes sure that no one cheats. The tower makes sure the action never gets too slow by sprinkling in random events like a horse race where players bet on the outcome.
Here's a two-minute tour:
Critics will say this version of the game removes a lot of thinking and skill. But I like its modern appeal. The first test of any game that purports to teach kids about money is simply: Is it fun? If it's not, the kids won't play and then what's the point?
This version of Monopoly still requires players to budget, plan their expansion carefully and negotiate with other players, and to assess the relative values of properties like Boardwalk and St. Charles Place. It's still Monopoly -- only without the crooked banker and in a format that won't let players change the rules.
Photo courtesy Flickr user HarshLight
More on MoneyWatch: