SOCIAL STUDIES The Game Of Life? Nicole Paulhus

The Game of LIFE was one of my favorite games while growing up. I have always hated Monopoly and  LIFE proved to be less time consuming and more entertaining. In a twist of holiday downtime, I somehow found myself playing this game four times over the past week. I can proudly say that I dominated each round, winning by at least a million dollars. The games were fun and full of laughs. Particularly when my 9-year-old cousin yelled, “Give me my lady!” in a southern accent after landing on the “Get Married!” spot. While I am well aware that the game is based on chance and meant to be a bit silly, I couldn’t help but find some of its lessons a bit odd, especially while playing with my younger cousins.

Everybody Gets Married!

In The Game of LIFE, every player is required to get married at the same spot in the game. This bothers me for many reasons. First, why does everyone have to get married? This game allows you to choose between college and career, so why doesn’t it let you decide if you want to get married or stay single? Secondly, why does everyone get married at the same exact spot in the game? What if my little pink peg isn’t ready for a life partner at this point, but later on down the road finds a nice fella’ (or lady!) and decides it’s time to settle down? What about that LIFE?

Have Kids, Make Money

The more children you acquire, the more you benefit financially. When you have a kid, you receive $5,000 in gifts from each player and when you retire each child gives you boatload of cash. Yes, you may land on a “Send your kid to college, pay $40,000” space along the way, but overall this game teaches that kids are moneymakers and not financial burdens. In this game, the Duggars are the Trumps.

A World of No Consequences

There are no consequences for things good or bad in this world. I won American Idol, collected $100,000 and then continued to collect my salary as a lawyer. What? My sister got fired from her job as a doctor and then merely picked up a career card and became a mechanic. You can sue your cousin for $100,000 and then collect a baby gift from him on your next turn. It’s like everyone in this world has short-term memory issues. Where are the consequences and why is everyone suing one another so much?

Winning At Life

I get it. This is a board game and there needs to be a winner. Yet, something about adding up my cash at the end of the game to see how well I did in LIFE makes me a bit uneasy. Yes, you can collect LIFE tiles along the way to symbolize experiences and attending museums. That’s cool. Yet, something about the whole “the one with the most money wins” thing seems off. It’s probably the title of the game that bothers me more than anything. To say that this is The Game of LIFE insinuates that collecting cash, getting married, and having a boatload of kids is the only way to win at life. Maybe the game just needs a new title like The Game of Retiring Rich. That really is what this game is teaching us, is it not?

Feature Image via michaelhyatt.com

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  1. Nice post…has anyone checked out the ‘twist and turns’ edition? I think it was the updated version to address the concerns you just noted in your post, but agree with you all the way yo
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Game_of_Life:_Twists_%26_Turns

  2. I really want to create my own version of Life where real things happen. Like before you get married, maybe you could land on a space that says ‘significant other ran away with best friend’ or you could get evicted at some point. Maybe you could blow all your money at the casino. I also think you should have to pay rent before you buy a house.

    At work, I let my students (they’re all males) choose at the beginning if they want to be a girl or boy and then later on if they want to marry a girl or boy. That’s always a fun social experiment.

  3. Oh man. I remember I always tried so hard to not get married. My brothers would get so mad.

  4. I remember having similar conversations when I was a pre-teen about how it didn’t seem very “life-like”. Oh, cynical pre-pubescence. We also would choose whatever color peg we felt like marrying, and usually picked same sex because we thought it was funny since (at that moment in time, anyway) we were all boy-crazy.

  5. Wow it’s just a game. It’s fun. But this is true.

  6. My friends and I turned this game into a bad-a$$ drinking game. Everybody drank when you graduated college (naturally). Every time someone got married we all had to dance the chicken dance then spin the wheel to see how many we had to drink. We also drank every payday (just like real life back then!) We never finished the game. I think that it made a much better metaphor for LIFE that way. ;)