fimmtudagur, nóvember 30, 2006

verðbréfaspilið

I'm not a big fan of board games (in youth, I used to refer to them as "bored games") so when on Saturday night in Akureyri (at about the time I was expecting an imminent trip to Kaffi Karólína) Villi produced a big black cardboard box, something inside me groaned. The name of the game was Verðbréfaspilið, or The Stock Market Game. Villi described it as the Icelandic Monopoly (this game apparently also exists) but with shares instead of real estate.

Part of me was now intrigued, because even after more than two years here in the Land, I had not realized the existence of an Icelandic board game industry. Iceland: is there anything they don't have?

The game itself was a time capsule of early-90s Icelandic capitalism. One could buy shares in the usual suspects: Eimskip (literally, "Steamship", the biggest shipping company) and Flugleiðir (literally, "Airlines", now known universally by its English name, Icelandair) as well as a whole host of companies I had never heard of, like Stríkið, Max, and Frón. Even the world's worst-named travel agency, Úrval-Útsýn, was available. Apparently, the author of the game was from the Greater Akureyri area so the game also featured such local business luminaries as Crown Chicken and Höldur, in which players could buy a private equity stake.

Despite myself, and with a couple Zywiec under my belt, I found myself really enjoying Verðbréfaspilið. Through a series of lucky breaks, I amassed a fortune in the stock certificates of obsolete Icelandic firms. I had so much cash left over that I bought up all of the government bonds I could get my hands on. Poor Villi was bleeding cash; every time he landed on one of my companies he had to pay me a "dividend" and was forced to take 20% loans just to stay in the game. My combined stakes in Crown Chicken and several Icelandic cinema chains paid the big krónahs as well. After serveral hours, Kaffi Karólína had become a distant memory and I found myself instead a titan of Icelandic industry. At least on cardboard.

3 Comments:

Blogger videlectrix said...

Next up: Grand Mastermind for the Blind!

30.11.06  
Blogger Farbror Willy said...

Hard to imagine you haven't had any Frón biscuits at some point during your years here (they've changed the logo though from what it was in the game).

Strikið was a shoe manufacturer located around the place where the great Akureyri mall resides now. Probably went bankrupt not long after Verðbréfaspilið was made.

I think the companies of Verðbréfaspilið deserve their own "where are they now?" follow-up book. The result would probably be that 25% of them don't exist any more and the rest are now part of some bigger corporation, whose name undoubtedly ends with "Group".

The pictures really belong on this page :)

For your next visit I will have dug up my copy of Útvegsspilið!

1.12.06  
Blogger JB said...

I love it: "Strikið. They had a couple of medium-sized hits. They're currently residing in the 'Where-Are-They-Now?' file."

5.12.06  

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