James and I have spent a good deal of time over the pandemic playing Monopoly on our Wii.
(And I’ll pause here while you snicker and roll your eyes over the fact that yes, we still have a Wii.)
More specifically, we’ve been playing the “streets” version, which is their 3D version with the option of the regular Monopoly board or the landmark city board (think Paris, Berlin, DC). There have been some very short games and some really, really long games. We gave up one night when we reached the 400th turn, realized neither one of us was going to win, and that two hours had passed.
Playing has been a nice and simple distraction when we’ve overdosed on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. We take turns crushing one another, and I will confess your ego takes a small hit when you have to declare bankruptcy because you don’t have enough left to pay a $50 penalty. However, over the course of playing the last ten months, we’ve reached one inescapable conclusion:
Bad architecture knows no bounds.
When the first houses and hotels started popping up, we had a good laugh at just how tacky everything could be. Yet the more we played, the more we both started paying attention to exactly how the buildings looked, particularly in the landmark city version. Hotels on the German properties created with giant beer stein fronts. Paris and Marseille with their champagne bottle façades. And the multi-story log cabins springing up on the Canadian properties. (I guess because Canadians are woodsy and outdoorsy, eh?)
What turned out to be more disturbing than those options, however, were the hotels that bordered on offensive. The giant sombrero hotel for the Mexico properties. Or the conquistador hats for Madrid and Barcelona. Not to mention the giant bonsai tree for the Asian properties.
Really? That was the best they could come up with? Surely a game designer existed somewhere who had at least a smidgen of architecture in his background. Texas A&M’s visualization program is a part of the college of architecture and requires students to complete the first two years of the architecture program before moving into the viz studio. A&M cannot be the only architecture school to provide that sort of training.
Yet here we are, staring at some really awful – and I use the term loosely here – architecture. Which makes me wonder if bad architecture is a theme through other video games. Neither of us are video game enthusiasts by any means (see above comment about Wii). So we have no idea if the buildings look just as bad in Grand Theft Auto or Fortnite. Part of me hopes that between Monopoly in 2010 and any other game in 2021, players have seen a huge leap forward in design. Or at least someone has given architecture some thought.
However, we will continue to enjoy our Monopoly and continue to giggle and roll our eyes every time a house or hotel pops up. And know that if we ever feel the need to see some bad architecture, we don’t have to venture far, or even through our neighborhood. We just have to wander into the living room to turn on the Wii.
Cover image credit: SebRa LP