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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get Lucky With The Game of Life!

It's time to tempt the hands of fate once more as we begin the third installment of “Whatever Wednesday”.

The gist of Whatever Wednesday is this. I've grabbed all of the character cards from an old board game known as Clue (Cluedo in the UK), and assigned each one a different subject based on the other six theme days in the week. If you're wondering what the Clue cards represent, I'll show you.

MISS SCARLET: Sunday Jukebox
MRS. WHITE: Saturday Smorgasbord (weeks 3-5)
MR. GREEN: Saturday Smorgasbord (weeks 1-2)
MRS. PEACOCK: Friday Night in the TV Guide
PROFESSOR PLUM: Thursday Diary

So, now that you know what the days are, let's reach into the bag where all the cards are kept and choose one at random!

And, it looks like we're going green this week. Today's card is Mr. Green!

(Kind of ironic, given that yesterday's blog entry was about the man who brought life to a few green characters including Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch!)

Now this means that we're going to be making this Wednesday seem more like a Saturday. The first two Saturdays of the month deal with toys, puzzles, and video games, so I thought that I would pick a game in which the color green makes a bit of an appearance. One of the playing pieces happens to be green, and the main object of the game is to make as much green as possible while living your life the best way you know how. Sometimes exciting things happen in your life, while other times you end up losing quite a lot. But everyone will agree on one thing. The game of life is one that is filled with many twists and turns. Some days will frustrate you while others will make you smile. Some days will bring you complete joy, while others would break your heart. But at the end of it all, you stop and reflect on how you got to where you are and think that it was worth every single minute.

And that's what today's featured board game is all about. Living life to the fullest, figuring out what you are going to do, raising a family, and keeping a healthy balance.

It also happens to be one of my all-time favourite games.

So, do you want to play The Game of LIFE? There's only like twenty-five different ways to play it in addition to the classic LIFE game.

Seriously. There's been many different interpretations of the Game of LIFE. You can play a Monsters Inc. version. You can play a Simpsons version. You can play a Wizard of Oz version. If you shop at Target, you can purchase an Indiana Jones version of the Game of LIFE. And in Japan, apparently there's a version that features the cast of Sailor Moon!

I'm kind of interested in knowing what one has to do in the Sailor Moon version of the game. Take an extra spin every time Sailor Moon gets called “Meatball Head”?

But for the sake of argument, let's focus on the original Game of LIFE.

Now, I have a question for all of you. When do you think that the Game of LIFE was first sold in stores?

I know that I was first acquainted with the Game of LIFE in 1991, and that version is the one that I remember the most. But some of you might own the version that was released in the 1970s. Many more of you remember playing with the game in the 1960s. But believe it or not, the game even predates the 1960s...and even the 1900s!

You see, the board game was released all the way back in 1860!!!  And it didn't look anything like the versions that you or I grew up playing.  Just take a look at the original game board as it appeared one hundred and fifty some years ago!

It kind of resembles a retro style checkers board, doesn't it?  That was the idea.  The original name of the game - as designed by Milton Bradley - was "The Checkered Game of Life".  It was the very first game ever designed by Bradley, but most definitely not the last.  Bradley would eventually revolutionize the toy and game industry, creating a company specializing in the development of board games.  "The Checkered Game of Life" sold upwards of 45,000 copies by the end of its first year of production!

So, what was the goal of "The Checkered Game of Life", you ask?  Well, it was simple.

Your goal was to live the best life possible.  Just taking a look at the game board, certainly there are all sorts of good things that can happen.  You can get married, you can go to college, you can even achieve fame or get into politics (though some may argue that last part is more of a curse than a blessing).  Simultaneously, there are some bad choices that you can make.  You can get arrested, you can be ruined, you can be disgraced...and check out that "suicide" space!  You most certainly would never find that space in The Game of 
LIFE these days!  Wouldn't you automatically score a "game over" if you landed there?

Anyway, as you'll notice, there's no dice for this game.  Apparently back in the mid-1800s, dice were only used for gambling, which at the time was a major sin.  Which I suppose explains why the "gambling" square is seen as more of a punishment than a good thing.  So, instead of a die, a device known as a teetotum was created.  Players would spin the device around, and it would land on a numbered side.  Whatever the side the teetotum landed on, that was the number of spaces that a player could move.

The teetotum would preface the more common way of determining how players moved around the game board...the rainbow coloured spinner.

The way the game worked was that each time a person landed on a success space, they would receive 100 points.  If they landed on a bad space, I'm only guessing that points were taken away.  I wasn't around in 1860, and I was unable to find a more detailed set of rules.  The goal of the game was to reach the retirement square, in which a player would be awarded an additional 50 points.  At the end of the game, the player with the most points would have the best life possible, and they would be declared the victor of the game.

Flash forward a hundred years, and The Game of 
LIFE became more complex.

For one, the players who were in control could actually drive around a realistic looking game board (the board representing a gigantic highway).  The cars were in six different, orange, yellow, green, blue, and white (in newer versions, the white car was repainted pink or purple).  And there were little plastic pegs in light blue and light pink that you could put inside of the cars.  These little pegs represented you and the family that you would end up building as the game progressed.

Now, I'm only going by the game that I had, which was the 1991 version, but in my version of The Game of 
LIFE you would begin the game at a fork in the road.  One way sent you directly into the workforce and the other half made you go through college.  Both ways had their pros and cons.

If you just went off to work, you would have no loans to pay back, and you would automatically collect money as you passed the green "Pay Day" squares that would pop up randomly on your journey.  But the con is that you would be limited in whatever career choices you could embark on.  You see, some of the job cards that you would draw required you to get a degree.  No degree.  No job.

If you went to college though, you would have to wait to get the joys of a Pay Day square as well as pay back a loan, but you'd have more opportunities to grab "
LIFE" tiles (which I'll explain a little bit later), and you can choose whatever career you want.  

Now, you might think that the career you choose is pointless because the salary card was the only real thing that mattered.  But there were some occupations that offered more rewards than others.  The superstar had more fun squares than any other occupation, but a police officer could collect money from any player who spun a ten on the wheel (equivalent to a speeding ticket).  It was certainly something to think about.

Over the course of the game, you would also have to buy a house (some were more expensive than others), and you might also consider buying home and auto insurance as well (you never know when a tree will crash through the roof of your home).  And if you landed on a space where you got married and had a child, you would add more pegs to your car.

If you land on a space that has a LIFE logo on it, you could win a LIFE tile.  And it was important to get as many as you could, for each LIFE tile had an amount attached to it for doing an extraordinary event such as winning a national prize, or becoming the President of the United States.  The better the accomplishment, the more money was added.

Including the cash assets, the value of your home, and 
LIFE tiles, the person who had the highest total at the end of the game was declared the winner.  So, it was crucial that you go through the game of LIFE cautiously, but have a little bit of fun along the way.

But sometimes - as in the case of real life - you could have the best run of the game and one costly error can knock you down to the bottom.  Here's some examples from some of my own experiences playing The Game of LIFE.

In most cases, going to school usually means that you have a better quality of life than someone who did not (one of the main reasons why I am seriously looking at wanting to return to school at the age of 32).  But in The Game of 
LIFE this is not always the case.  I remember being so excited to be able to be the doctor of the game, and thought that I'd be living a life on easy street...

...until I drew the $30,000 salary card.  What the hell kind of doctor makes $30,000?  Maybe one who works at a free clinic or something.  Meanwhile, my sister was making $100,000 as an artist.  I tell you, The Game of 
LIFE can work in funny ways.

One time, I was very excited to get the deed to the most expensive mansion in the entire game, and I think my excitement was so great that I forgot to buy homeowner's insurance.  So when my home actually gets destroyed on my journey, I ended up nearly losing all of my money to make the repairs.  I never made that mistake again.

Another time, on another playthrough, I remember that no matter what I spun, I kept landing on the "It's a boy", "It's a girl", "Twins", "Adopt a child" spaces.  I ended the game with more children than Jon and Kate Gosselin!  I had to actually use a second car token to keep all nine of my babies with me.  To add insult to injury, only I would land on the college for your kids space with nine children.  Lost ALL of my money, but surprisingly I won the game because for each child you have, you received a LIFE tile.  And four of the nine tiles I had were worth a quarter of a million dollars!

And wouldn't you know it?  The one time I drew the police officer card was the one game in which I was the only player who spun a "10".  It was the most disappointment that I have ever felt playing a board game.

But you know...much like life itself, playing The Game of LIFE was worth every playthrough.  And in most of the games I played over the course of my own lifetime, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Well...okay.  Maybe I would have invested in some birth control while I was in "college".  ;)

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