01st Jun2018

Remember “Game of Life”? Here’s How It Evolved

by James Smith


The Game of Life, sometimes known just as ‘Life,’ probably drums up mixed feelings when it comes to your memories. While it isn’t necessarily the first game to come to mind on game night, we’re willing to bet that some of you will rejoice at the mention with cherished memories of becoming a millionaire with a few lucky breaks, while others will know all too well the pain of hitting every potential loss along the way and barely having enough to retire. Whatever your memories, we’re willing to bet that fans – or otherwise – of the original game certainly won’t recognise it today! From changing adaptations over the years, to the integration with our much loved consoles, we’re taking a walk down memory lane (and hoping we can win a few million along the way!) and taking a look at the evolutions of this game.

A History

The Game of Life originally started out in 1860 as The Checkered Game Of Life and we have a man by the name of Milton Bradley to thank for the offering. This was the first game he’d ever created and went on to sell an amazing 4,000 copies just within the first year. One of the most notable differences is the use of a teetotum as opposed to dice or, of course, the spinner. This was a six sided spinning top, used solely because dice were too closely related to gambling back in the 1860s. The design was essentially like, you guessed it, a checkerboard but with the squares modified to include things like ‘Infancy’, ‘College’ and even the morbid ‘suicide’!

The 100th anniversary brought about the 1960’s version of the game which is much closer to the style most of us are used to today, which you can read more about below.

The 1960s

While similar to the original version, the 1960’s version brought about a few distinct changes that you’ll probably recognise. The ‘happy old age’ square was altered to become the Day Of Reckoning at which point players needed to make a choice between moving into Millionaire Acres, or risking everything to become a Millionaire Tycoon. Of course, you risked getting sent to the Poor Farm, so this was certainly the less favourable option.

The 1970’s-80’s Versions

These versions of the game featured even more changes that brought the game closer to what you’ll see today, though it still held the same gameplay as the 1960’s alternative. Most notably was probably the introduction of ‘revenge’ squares that allowed players to ‘sue for damages’ when they landed on it – but that wasn’t the end of the changes! While there was no ‘poor farm’ penalty if you failed to bet correctly on the strip at the end, there was the chance of becoming ‘Bankrupt’ at which point players would have to sit out until the end of the game. Minor changes saw the ‘convertibles’ become ‘minivans’ to market it to the baby-boomer parents, though convertibles were still available in the 1978 edition so fans of these car styles weren’t missing out by any means!

The 1991 Version

While there wasn’t much change between this version and those previous, it did see better rewards for good behaviour that weren’t seen in previous versions. Everything from recycling trash to helping the homeless and beyond were all rewarded, usually with money which could be put towards the end total of the game.

The 2005 Version

quick read of the rules certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss with this adaptation, as this is where things really changed. Those breaking out this version of the game might be taken aback by changes in caricatures, font styles, colours and more but the changes, as you expect, didn’t just end with the design of the board. There was a reduced element of chance in this version, meaning players had to play a little more strategically, though of course this by no means meant that chance disappeared entirely. The game still relied on luck, especially to reward players for risks they opted to take.

Pop Culture Alternatives

The Game Of Life is still a favourite among players worldwide, leading to a number of pop culture alternatives. While it hasn’t hit the top spot for best board game of the year recently, the video game alternatives are proving to be favourites regardless. The Game of Life can be found on PC, PlayStation, Wii, WiiWare, iPhone and even as part of the Hasbro Family Game Night series on Xbox, Wii and PlayStation 3! It’s hard to believe, but Game of Life even made it to an online casino slot and a number of players will recognise similar aspects in The Sims PC game, another name which had taken the gaming world by storm.
Whether you’re a fan of the classic editions, or you’re quite happy playing the new offerings or pop-culture alternatives, Game of Life has something for everyone – why not give it a play?

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