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How a Charm Bracelet Inspired the Monopoly Tokens

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No doubt you’ve heard that the Internet elected a new token to the Monopoly lineup—and it’s a cat. Shocker. I’m sure somewhere Maru is celebrating by jumping into a box that’s smaller than his head and Grumpy Cat is disgruntled. Though it’s been a big news item that—gasp!—the iron is no longer an option for passing Go and landing in jail, this is hardly the first time the Monopoly game has undergone a minor facelift.

When Charles Darrow first started selling the game, he suggested using household items, like buttons, as tokens. It was only after Parker Brothers purchased the game from Darrow in 1935 that they decided to offer actual tokens. Darrow’s nieces, it turns out, were fond of making Monopoly tokens from their charm bracelet baubles or from prizes out of Cracker Jacks boxes. In some versions of the story, Darrow noticed that neighborhood kids were using the charms. Whatever the inspiration was, the Parker Brothers folks liked the idea because it was different than what any other board game was using at the time, and because they were already on friendly terms with a company who produced such trinkets. Dowst Manufacturing already had 15 perfectly-sized charms on their production line, so Parker Brothers appropriated four of them, including the thimble.

The tokens changed again because of metal conservation efforts during WWII—crude tokens vaguely shaped like cars, irons and elephants were made from a composite material, and in some editions, colored wooden pegs replaced the shaped tokens entirely. After WWII, Parker Brothers went back to metal playing pieces and added a fighter plane for a brief period of time.

Monopoly Wiki

In the early 50s, tokens you probably didn’t even know existed—the lantern, the purse, and the rocking horse—were replaced by our modern mainstays: the dog, the wheelbarrow, and the horse and rider.

Sundown Farm and Ranch

Of course, many of us probably remember a public vote in 1998, when Monopoly enthusiasts decided a bag of money would be the newest Monopoly piece. It was phased out in 2007. I suspect the cat is similarly destined for a relatively quick retirement.

By the way, am I the only one who grew up thinking the cannon was actually a spinning wheel?

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Learn All About Fonts by Playing With These Poker Cards
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Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

Want to learn about fonts? Try playing poker with the Font Deck, a pack of cards designed to help users learn the finer points of typography and font design.

The deck is the work of Canadian designer Ben Barrett-Forrest, who runs a graphic design studio based out of Ontario and the Yukon. In 2014, Barrett-Forrest designed the precursor to the Font Deck, a product called the Design Deck that aimed to teach users about the ins and outs of graphic design. Some of the Design Deck cards feature typography lessons, but the Font Deck—available for $17 a deck on Barrett-Forrest’s website or on Kickstarter—gives the topic a deeper dive.

A male hand holds fanned-out cards next to a Font Deck box and a stack of playing cards.
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

The deck includes topics like letter anatomy, old style typefaces, the difference between a font and a typeface, and profiles of specific typefaces, like Helvetica. The cards themselves are printed by the same company that makes popular playing cards like Bicycle and Bee, so they’re gambling ready, if you feel like betting your fortune on that slab serif card.

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Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
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Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

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