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Synaesthesia in the Game Monopoly

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As the world is changing, the young generation of synaesthetes are responding to this change by developing synaesthetic responses towards new technologies such as iPad games, Wii games or other hobbies they spend a lot of time on. This gives those young synaesthetes a big advantage over their elder counterparts.

Before the iPad was invented, Skye used to create his own games on large pieces of paper and cardboard boxes. He favoured his self created games more than those purchased from shops. Over the years, Skye has made many board games and educational games for himself and Thomas to play.

Whilst Skye is still continuously making his own games, his life and Thomas’ life have been gradually taken over by Wii games and iPad games especially iPad games.

About the time Thomas was turning six, iPad entered our household, a blessing and a tragic at the same time. Within a year, Thomas became a real iPad guru and an adviser to all of us. Before we set off for our European trip, he built a custom clock on each of our iPads without us knowing. The clock had the local time of all the nine destinations. Then he surprised us upon arrival at our first destination.

On his own iPad, he set up a folder called “Lifestyle”. Within the folder, there are many iPad games he has downloaded with or without our permission. His lifestyle has certainly improved since. This summer holiday, he was taking full advantage of my foot injury, and was downloading and playing many games without supervision.

One of our favourite family games is Monopoly. A few months ago, under Thomas’ influence, we bought an iPad version of Monopoly so that we could play it anywhere without porting a giant board game.

Children are really clever with Monopoly. Their colour and sound synaesthesia improves their investment acumen in the game. They focus on properties that have the same colour group so that they have increased chances of acquiring houses and hotels, which in turn substantially increase their rental income and conquer their opponents.

Skye hears the same synaesthetic sound in the same colour property group. I have listed his sound synaesthesia of assets in the Monopoly game with some associated reasons:

DARK PURPLE (Mediterranean Ave./Baltic Ave.): hear people at Pub noise, such as people cheering with their wine glasses, playing pool table games, and seldom hear people playing poke machine as well.

SILVER (Oriental Ave./Vermont Ave./Connecticut Ave.): hear people walking on the carpet. To Skye, silver looks like carpet.

MAGENTA (St Charles Place/States Ave./Virginia Ave.): rock guitar playing

ORANGE (St James Place/Tennessee Ave./New York Ave.): hear people playing tennis. This is due to the sound similarity between Tennessee and Tennis.

RED (Kentucky Ave./Illinois Ave./Indiana Ave.): hear Indian people dancing because of the word “Indiana”

YELLOW (Atlantic Ave./Ventnor Ave./Marvin Gardens): people watering plants. This sound synaesthesia was originally triggered by the word “Garden”, but it extended to Skye’s general synaesthetic spatial location perception for words “Atlas” and “Atlantic”, i.e., Atlas/Atlantic gives rise to a garden setting.

GREEN (Pacific Ave./North Carolina Ave./Pennsylvania Ave): a sea wave sound triggered by “Pacific”.

DARK BLUE (Park Place/Boardwalk): light thunderstorm

RAILROADS (Reading/Pennsylvania/B&O/Short Line): hear a pop sound, Skye’s synaesthetic sound of trains.

UTILITIES (Electric Company): a high-pitched Ding sound
UTILITIES (Water Works): a low-pitched Dung sound

COMMUNITY CHEST: hear a eight year old child going through a treasure chest to look for something.

CHANCE (the red one next to Railroad Short Line): a train honking its horn.
CHANCE (the magenta one): a quiet whisper.
CHANCE (the blue one): snowing noise.

LUXURY TAX: a ring making noises, and at the same time, people quietly turning book pages.

All corners except GO TO JAIL: bright piano notes which make a beautiful whistling sound mixed with broadway music.

GO TO JAIL: an old croaky woman saying “Ahhhh”.

The most hilarious ones, in my opinion, are the green houses and the red hotels. When a house is bought, Skye hears music note C4 followed by G4. But if the acquisition is a hotel, it goes up to C6 and G6 as the purchaser is becoming richer. The sound reaches to C7 and G7 if the hotel is worth a lot of money :-)

With a slow rolling token on a traditional board, Skye hears each sound along the way, and easily remembers each property that a player goes through. With the upgrade to the iPad Monopoly, the token rolls so fast electronically that he cannot hear anything until it stops rolling. He thinks he has been disadvantaged by this modern technology! This gives Thomas great opportunities in winning Monopoly. Thomas is like a busy bee offering trading, bidding cheap assets, and sending all of us to bankruptcy nine out of ten times, just like what Skye used to do with the elder game.

In the real commercial world, neither children is interested in money as the word “Money” tastes like vomit. But the game of Monopoly is full of colours, and requires strategies and occasional luck.

I have long accepted that Thomas now runs the Monopoly show in the family. However, my competitive husband does not accept this fact. After kids go to bed, he sometimes secretly plays the game with the computer to better his winning chance over his little son. Once, I said to him not to bother unless he had game synaesthesia like our children. Here was his reply:

“Oh I definitely have synaesthesia in Angry Birds! When I see the black bird, I hear Maria Sharapova grunting on the tennis court, driving me mad!”

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