Will Settlers of Catan Overcome Its Geek Origins?

My ThinkProgress colleague Scott Keyes has a fun piece in The Atlantic about why Settlers of Catan is poised to be the next Monopoly:

Where games like Monopoly fall short—with playing times that far outlast the players’ interest, particularly those who have little hope of victory—Settlers is designed to maintain close competition. Unlike games of Risk that can famously last for days, Settlers usually takes 90 minutes or less. And unlike many pastimes that quickly descend into cutthroat competitiveness, Settlers of Catan is not a zero-sum game. A single roll generally produces resources for multiple players, and trades are almost always mutually beneficial. Because Settlers is a unique game that rewards cooperation as much (if not more) as confrontation, Weisberg argues that it “brings out competitive spirits in a positive way.”

Scott quotes another analyst who argues that the game’s gotten popular because its challenges and constraints mirror ones that exist in the real world. If that’s really the key to its appeal, then Settlers is more in the model of Monopoly, which has its roots in “practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” All of which makes Ridley Scott’s plans for his upcoming Monopoly movie, which is supposed to revolve around an evil, Donald Trump-like real estate developer, a lot more plausible and a lot less goofy. I’m not saying said movie is a good idea, just that it’s marginally less preposterous given the context.