It will cost $375 to buy University of the Southwest, compared with only $210 to buy Hobbs High School and $130 to buy Casey’s restaurant when Monopoly lovers play a new game called Hobbs Opoly. Other places, including the Lovington Highway, Green Meadow Park, and Dal Paso Street can be had by players who know how to manage their money, provided they can avoid traffic jams, property taxes and contingencies.
Although the rules of play and the die and the cards are similar to those in the Monopoly game created by Hasbro during the Great Depression, a letter provided by Michael Schulte, marketing manager for Late for the Sky Production Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, says that neither Late for the Sky, nor Hobbs Opoly has any connection to Hasbro. Late for the Sky developed Hobbs Opoly.
What Late for the Sky does have is a connection with Walmart, which has exclusive vending rights to Hobbs Opoly and other games specific to cities throughout the United States. At the moment there are Opoly games in Albuquerque, Clovis, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces according to Schulte, who admitted that New Mexico place names are sometimes confusing to him.
“We’re working with Walmart,” Schulte said. “They are wanting to develop connections at the local level, and this game provides an opportunity to do that. It’s a chance for older people to share their memories of some of the places on the board with younger people they may be playing with.”
Schulte said the company doesn’t contact businesses or other organizations before appropriating their names for the Opoly games, but no one has complained about being included.
Assistant manager of the toy department at Walmart, Leanna Harris, said the first shipment of the game, which came to the store about a month ago, “sold out and just today we put a new shipment on the shelves. I haven’t heard anyone talk about it, but it seems to be pretty popular with the customers.”
Schulte said that Opoly games in big cities are popular, but that people in small towns “seem to have more civic pride than people in big cities. That’s why we create these games for small towns. Just using the name of the town and the businesses and places is a celebration of the place. They’re always glad to be mentioned,” Schulte said. “We get the names of local places from local publications, social media, and other sources and we go with that.”
Casey’s manager, Paula Manis, said she is pleased to have the restaurant included in the game.
“I’ve got the game in the back there, but I haven’t had time to play it yet,” Manis said.
Playing the game doesn’t have to be the marathon the original Monopoly game could turn into. Enclosed in the box are instructions for both a traditional game and a one-hour game.
Western Heritage Museum’s interim director, Erin Anderson, said she “is glad the museum is included in the game. It may bring more people into the museum.”
The possibility that inclusion in the game might bring in more business was a common theme for Hobbs Chamber of Commerce president Patty Collins and Lea County Center for the Arts executive director Doug Levy.
“If it will bring more awareness to Hobbs, I think it’s wonderful to be included in the game,” Collins said.
Levy said, “I haven’t seen the game. But I think being included is fabulous. It helps bring people to Hobbs and that’s good for the whole community.”
Superintendent of Hobbs schools TJ Parks said he has not seen the game. “But my son loved Monopoly and we played it lots of hours,” Parks said. “If this game brings a favorable spotlight to the community, that’s a great thing.”
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.