The game card reads, “Rush Hour Traffic! Go Directly to Traffic Jam. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.”
If you said, “Yes, a little like Monopoly,” you’d be right.
This particular Monopoly-style game has a distinctly local flavor—in fact, local landmarks and streets: Gilroy Gardens. Gilroy Garlic Festival. Leavelsey (sic) Road and more.
The capitalistic fun of accumulating property and charging rent to your friends and family is the same as the traditional game, with more than a few parochial twists.
Instead of jail, for example, you may end up in a traffic jam. (Think 101 in rush hour, or Monterey or First streets during repaving.)
Gilroy-Opoly was first suggested this spring by the local Walmart store, according to Michael Shulte. Shulte’s Cincinnati company has a marketing arrangement with Walmart, whose local managers for three years have been suggesting specialized “Opoly” games for small cities like Gilroy.
If the suggestion strikes the fancy of game developers at Late for the Sky Production Company, its designers and writers begin online research and can produce a new game within a month, Shulte said.
Gilroy-Opoly went on sale in the Walmart on Camino Arroyo in southeast Gilroy in late April. Sales have gone so well for the game, which Shulte said sells for under $20, that Late for the Sky has shipped another 700 games for holiday shoppers. One Monterey-Opoly game shared a Walmart end-cap last week with a large stack of the Gilroy version.
“The small-city version has been a great success,” Shulte told the Gilroy Dispatch last week. “The city games are a point of local pride.”
His small company, with just 40 employees, has been making games customized for big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles for 15 years. He said the list of cities will grow to 250 by the end of the year—100 in Texas alone. For 20 years before that, colleges and dog-breed Opoly games were his bread and butter.
Shulte started his business when copyright restrictions eased on the concept of the world-famous Parker Brothers game. Copycats cannot use the word “monopoly,” but can mimic the game board using their own game pieces and different street and property names.
Parker Brothers itself has 1,144 official licensed Monopoly versions, for sports teams, movies and others. Shulte’s company has plenty of competition: At last count, there were nearly 3,500 versions of the popular game for sale worldwide.