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Have you ever sat back and pondered the incredible genius behind the Milton Bradley “Game of Life”? The whole point is to move from Point A to Point B in a little car, with little peg people, simulating many of the ups and downs of real life. You are required to choose a career (no backpacking in Europe to “find yourself” first), get married (singleness is again not an option), and buy a house (even if you can’t afford it). At the end of the game, you hope you have enough money to win the large white plastic mansion with a big fountain out front, or be removed to the “Old Folks Home” where you will likely the spend your remaining days weaving baskets for the bewildered. Doesn’t part of that smack of reality?

But it can still be fun. When else might you drive around town in a seriously large “hunting orange” car? When else can you instantly change careers with another player…or land on a space that literally says “Start Mid-Life Crisis. Choose Career Now”…OK, I’m going to be a Doctor and skip all the boring years of study and hard labour! If you’re fortunate, you might get paid. It all depends on whether you land on “Pay Day”; otherwise you will be forced to live like the rest of the players, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best! On the plus side, you could have twins, or win money in a talent contest. On the down side, you could have twins, produce a failing rock video or buy an expensive sailboat.

Throughout the game, you can collect LIFE tiles, which are meant to help supplement your retirement income at the end of the game. They are, however, of no use to you, when you break your leg skiing or have to pay taxes. If you can’t pay, you borrow from the bank. If you’re adventurous you can always gamble on the stock market too. But like real life, it is a gamble!

Just imagine…you can be a travel agent, with an annual salary of $25,000. You live in a mobile home. Your family horse wins the Derby and you win a Pulitzer Prize. How often do you read about that in your local newspaper?

The Game of Life was originally created in 1860 by Milton Bradley, but the modern version was originally published 100 years later, in 1960. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although this game has been modified a few times since the 1960’s to keep it more “contemporary”, it remains a game mostly of chance, and less of skill. Kind of like real life? We do our best to save our money, pay our bills, teach our kids, and have some fun along the way – there are occasional surprises, and sometimes they are good! We know that life doesn’t end with a big plastic mansion, or a smaller retirement home, but it doesn’t stop us from looking to that goal.

Tonight I’m looking forward to playing a game with Little Guy. He played with Hubby last night while I was at band practice (rock, not concert). It’s too complicated for him right now, so we mostly spin, move our cars and read the tiles for a good laugh. But if I do get to choose a career, I’m looking for that Super Star card. It’s the closest I’m likely to get in real life, so I might as well enjoy don my feather boa and Rock On!

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Game_of_Life