Because the Game of Life has been around for so many years, nearly every adult alive today has played the game. Depending on when you grew up and who you played with, memories may range from fond to traumatic and everything in between. There are two classes of Life players, those that play to win and those that use the game as a sort of crystal ball in which they can determine their future.
The game simulates the typical journey through life, starting with college, ending with retirement and touching on everything in between like jobs, marriage and children. The game is for 2 to 6 players. The modern version of the game was first released in 1960.
Many a sleepover was spent with a group of girls squatting around a Life board fighting over who was married to the cute boy in school and who was married to the weird kid with the body odor and bad teeth. Of course the first girl to get married in the game was supposed to somehow be the first one to get married in real life too. What was intended to be a friendly board game quickly turned into a death match meat market when played by 4 teenage girls.
If you weren’t daydreaming about Mr. Right and how many peg children the two of you would have, you were probably playing with a different goal in mind: world domination. Winning at the game of life somehow ensured your success in the real world. After all, if you could look past the marriage cards, peg kids and awful plastic sedans on your way to college and a new job, you could probably look past any other obstacle that would hold you back from becoming a successful CEO once your voice changed and you moved out of your parents’house.
If you’re contemplating having a throwback night and breaking out the Game of Life, here’s the key to success: Do everything the way you probably didn’t do it in real life. Forego college, since your starting salary will be based on luck rather than education anyway. Spin the wheel and make your way through the board. Collect your salary a few times and pick up LIFE cards as you go.
After you’ve collected your salary a few times, you’ll have the chance to make some real life decisions, like taking on a mortgage, getting married and having kids. If you’re one of the people that got a low salary initially, fear not. Kids are not out of the question. There are cards in the stack that say things like “exchange salary with another player”. Worryingly enough, the game allows players that accumulate too many kids to exchange said kids for cash. Some might say this too mirrors real life.
At the end of the game you’ll count your cash and determine the winner based on how much money they have. Again, ignore the adage that money can’t buy happiness and all that. In the Game of Life, your net worth basically determines how successful you were at the game.
The real lesson that the game teaches you –if you’re the type that looks for a lesson in everything – is that money can’t buy happiness. While the winner of the game is the person that has the most money, they’re probably not the happiest player. They sold their soul (and probably their kids) to get the cash needed to win. It’s funny how different nostalgic games from your childhood can be when you view them through the eyes of an adult.