Sales of financial crisis board game surge in UK's richest area

Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:10am EST
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By John Geddie and Alasdair Pal

LONDON (Reuters) - There will be no Christmas break from market mayhem for London's financial elite if sales of a board game based on a banking collapse are anything to go by.

Market Meltdown, which has echoes of the 2008 financial crisis that led to the worst UK recession since World War Two, is one of the bestsellers in the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, home to hundreds of bankers and hedge fund managers.

Manufacturer Clarendon Games has seen sales of the game more than double this year and creator Will Sorrell has noted particular interest from financial professionals.

"I assume the people that are making big investments make their decisions based on rational reasons, but they tell me that markets aren't always rational," said Sorrell, whose father was a stockbroker in the "boom and bust" 1980s.

Situated in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea -- where the average house price is over 2 million pounds ($3.13 million) -- Peter Jones has been restocking the game more than any other store over the last month, according to the manufacturer, which did not want to publish sales figures.

Peter Jones' parent company, John Lewis, confirmed it was one of the branch's top sellers.

The game is reminiscent of Monopoly, the 80-year old classic in which players try to amass a fortune in property speculation. But in Market Meltdown, players start rich and try to stay solvent in the face of defaults, spiraling debts and bonus caps.

Flying private jets round the board, they bet on the stock market (represented by a roulette wheel), and can "go rogue" by borrowing up to a billion pounds to cover losses should their trades go awry.   Continued...