It’s Not all Fun and Games. Not Anymore, at Least

Last week while cleaning out a closet, I uncovered my old Game of LIFE.  I couldn’t resist opening the box and giving that wheel a few spins to help me decide if it’s destined for the trash pile.  And it got me thinking…

My friends and I would wile away countless hours on lazy summer afternoons playing LIFE.  We loved everything about it: the stretch-limo Chrysler-esque cars, the cute little pink and blue pegs, the three-D board, the spinning wheel, the pretty money.  Ah… life!

My version of the game hailed from the seventies and (according to Wikipedia) ‘simulated a person’s travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with life events along the way.’ Events included school, career, marriage, children and buying a house – all with the goal of acquiring the humungous wad of cash needed to retire. Simplistic to say the least, but when you’re ten years old, life is a game.

Unfortunately, Milton Bradley decided to make LIFE a tad more realistic.  In the nineties, the game developed a more refined social class when the standard ranch/shack of a house could be traded up for a lah-dee-dah Victorian mansion. Insurance was needed to ward off the dreaded ‘tragedy’ spots (house fires, car accidents and the like) located throughout the board, and those yummy stretch Chryslers were replaced with boxy, snug-seating minivans (no doubt to make things more energy efficient).  To add more drama, you retired into one of two communities: Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres… but wouldn’t know which you could afford until the lucky day arrived.

More life. Less game.

Still higher doses of reality in the 2000 version made the game more potent.  The cost of college dramatically increased to $100k (up from $40k in the nineties), a debt you acquired soon as you packed for your freshman year. Life events became more humane and callous: while players were rewarded for recycling trash and helping the homeless, they could also exact revenge upon another player at the end of the game.


I wondered what would be added to this game if MB kept to the ten-year plan and revamped it for 2010… how much more realistic could LIFE get??

  • The Career and College choice required at the beginning of the game can be further complicated by the addition of two new paths: Military and Night School/Walmart.
  • The cash-up-front rule can change with the introduction of financial aid and variable-rate mortgages with surprise balloon payments.
  • Pink and blue pegs can be replaced with anatomically (and politically) correct pieces, which include LGBT options.
  • Minivans can be offered in in-vitro sizes to accommodate larger families and octo-moms.
  • TRAGEDY spots throughout the board can include layoffs, identity theft, foreclosure, the 401(k) tanking, unprotected sex, astronomically high medical bills and the ever-popular hubby screwing around with the nanny.
  • New BONUS spots can be introduced on the board and include Viagra prescriptions, Farmville points, an iPhone4, frequent flyer miles and condoms.
  • In addition to auto and house insurance, medical insurance can become mandatory: while it wouldn’t cover all health-related expenses (see tragedy spots above), it might include pre-existing conditions… but not until 2014.

Yikes.  Suddenly, there’s no game in LIFE.

Screw this… I’m tossing this game and breaking out the Twister board.