Up-close: life-size games around the world

As visitors play on giant Monopoly sets in three Dubai Malls, Vision takes a closer look at the craze for larger-than-life gaming

The property market can be a ruthless place. Wannabe tycoons must build big and build early, borrow heavily, take risks, and be merciless when dealing with competition.That’s how it goes in the game of Monopoly, anyway, and UAE residents and visitors have been given a chance to sharpen their skills when it comes to cutting deals and amassing fortunes this summer. A giant set of the classic board game has been installed in each of three locations in the Emirates in the run-up to Ramadan: at Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre.

A top-hatted, moustachioed host helps players move around a board, and a life-size jail is on hand for potential convicts. In order to play, shoppers must spend at least Dh300 in the participating malls and then show their receipts to the registration desk, where they will be given a voucher.

Each game lasts between eight and 10 minutes, and comes with a photographer taking souvenir snaps, a Monopoly manicure station, and prizes for players who land on special squares that have been transformed into Ski Dubai, Vox Cinemas, the Sheraton hotel and iFly Dubai. The player with the most points at the end of each game wins Dh500

The trend for life-size games has been gathering pace for decades. The world’s biggest Scrabble game was played at Wembley Stadium in the UK in 1998, a beautifully carved giant chess set can be seen at the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in India, and San Francisco's Lombard Street was turned an enormous version of Candy Land for the game’s 60th anniversary in 2009.

Sometimes these games approach the status of art: New York’s Museum of Modern Art staged a game in 2011 called Starry Heavens in which players moved around a large, chess-like grid.

As video gaming and immersive theatre explode in popularity, people are becoming more familiar with the idea of playing games with strangers on a grand scale. Getting involved with this trend can be a lot of fun, but if you give it a go in the UAE, just remember: it’s not the taking part that counts. It’s the winning.