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USU to develop USyd-themed Monopoly

The special USyd edition of the board game will join the USU's merchandise range in 2019.

An artist's impression of how the board may shape up. Design: Elijah Abraham An artist's impression of how the board may shape up. Design: Elijah Abraham

If you’ve ever dreamed about buying the Quad and redeveloping it into a hotel, dream no more: with paper money, plastic tokens and some cutthroat capitalism, soon we’ll all be real estate emperors—right in our own backyard.  Introducing: USyd Monopoly.

That’s right, the USU is developing a USyd-themed edition of everyone’s favourite board game. And by “favourite” we mean “most likely to ruin a family holiday after your sister got to be banker and didn’t give you enough five-dollar notes”.

So far, information on the project is scant: it’s in the “very early stages of development”, according to USU Head of Commercial Operations Jess Reed, and the USU is currently “working with the University and the licensed [Monopoly] distributors in Australia”.

Hasbro, the global toy giant, owns Monopoly, but local licensing seems to be handled by Winning Moves, a company known for producing variant board games. Winning Moves sells a wide range of Australia-specific Monopoly editions, featuring Sydney Monopoly, AFL Monopoly, NRL Monopoly and even Holden Monopoly.

Presumably, the game will form part of the USU’s merchandise range, which retails at outlets like UniMart and Footbridge Station. Until recently, USU merchandise was dominated by keyrings, branded jerseys and overpriced umbrellas. But things got spicy with the recent triumph of the USyd-themed snow globe: with its miniature Quad and sparkly flurries, the globe has sold over 5000 units since its April launch.

Commercial Ops must be hoping for a similar entrepreneurial coup with USyd Monopoly.

On game design, details are also thin. Like regular Monopoly, it will probably feature a rectangular board with squares representing pieces of real estate for sale. Unlike regular Monopoly, these buildings will probably be real life USyd locations.

Which buildings will make an appearance is as yet unclear, and it’s likely the USU itself doesn’t know: the name and likeness of any USyd asset will, in most cases, have to be licensed from the University itself. And as University spokesperson confirmed to Honi, “discussions are yet to be had around licensing or building choices”.

But that leaves room for some wild speculation: will the Quad serve as Mayfair, Monopoly’s most expensive property? Will the Bosch Building, a suspected asbestos hotspot, be Old Kent Lane? Will players collected 200 credit points when passing go? Will academic misconduct proceedings be jail? And, after the Baird government crushed our locomotive ambitions, what on earth will the train stations be?

There’s a commercial justice to USyd Monopoly. Universities bid for us with slick marketing. They charge us extravagant ‘rent’ in the form of course fees. They expose us to the merciless chance of inconsistent marking standards. They force us to do laps through the labyrinth of student services and tortured degree progressions.

It’s time to turn the tables: with USyd Monopoly, it won’t just be rich donors who can own a piece of our university.

But, as with all good things, you’ll have to wait: USyd Monopoly won’t be in stores before semester one, 2019 at the earliest.