Product Type: other board games
Newest Review: ... pin in a car and spin the wheel to move. The wheel is essentially your dice and shows you how far you can move. On each square of the... more
Life is a Game
Game of Life
Member Name: MelissaRuth
Game of Life
Date: 13/05/12, updated on 13/05/12 (64 review reads)
Advantages: A fun game. Relatively quick to set up and play.
Disadvantages: No educational component. Original version now more expensive.
Way back in the late 1970s I was given the Game of Life as a present and it soon became my favourite game and I'd play it whenever my friends came round and even my younger brother would happily play this game with me. By 2003 when my daughter moved into the age group that this game is recommended for, age 8 and over, I eagerly awaited the opportunity to have a playing companion again and we gave her the game for Christmas (where my original version had gone I have no idea). Yet again it became a firm favourite and both of my daughters have played it countless times. It seems that whenever I make the suggestion to play a family game this is the one that is chosen, even now when they're teenagers.
This review is of our game that is about 8 years old, but zooming into the photographs of the game on Amazon it appears to have changed very little in the intervening years, and indeed it had changed little since that original version that I had thirty years ago. It is a game that really has been able to stand the test of time and according to Amazon it has won the Classic award by Parent's Choice awards. However I was unable to locate this on their website, so it did not win in 2011. The game is currently retailing for £33.72 new or £11.50 for a used version (May 2012) on Amazon and is produced by Hasbro International Ltd and MB games.
The aim of the game is to travel along life's journey from the point in time where you either choose to go to university, and take the loan that goes with that option (even more pertinent now with the rise in tuition fees than it maybe was at the time of the games creation) or start a career, to the point when you retire either to a country estate or to the millionaire mansion. Along the way there will be some compulsory events such as choosing a career, getting married and buying a house and then you may win the lottery, adopt twins, win the Nobel prize, have a life saving operation, buy a sailing boat, have a baby boy, have a bad car accident or go on safari to name but a few. The luck of the dice, or spinner in the case of this game, maps out the future of your life, although in several places you will have a choice to make - will you choose the safe route or the risky route - the decision is yours?
As an adult the Game of Life is your opportunity to rewrite your history, abolish the mistakes, do the things you wanted to and ultimately end up a millionaire, with a bit of luck. As a child I loved dreaming and imaging how my life would turn out and I wasn't so much motivated by the amount of money that I would earn, but by the number of children I'd acquire along the way and the type of mansion I'd live in.
The board measures 58 x 50cm when set up, and is divided into 4 segments with seams between them that enable the board to fold into quarters for storage in the box. At various points on the board there are slots into which you insert 3 dimensional plastic bridges, hills and buildings, such as a church, factory and the retirement mansion. A circular spinner with numbers one to ten also inserts into the board in the same way. It took me less than two minutes to fully assemble the board and other pieces ready for play, as the slots are quick and easy to locate the pieces into and they remain securely in place during play. Removal is just as easy. The background design of the board is green with trees and photographs of life events. On our board these do look very dated with clothing looking decidedly from the 70s - I wonder if they have kept this classic feature or if the board has been brought into the 21st century in the new version - it's hard to tell from photographs that I've seen. A complicated roadway of orange, red, blue and green squares snakes across the board with cross over points giving an interesting layout. There are ample squares to work through to make the game last anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour depending on how the spinner works for you.
The majority of squares are orange and have all of the life events on them and many have financial instructions such as requiring you to pay £90,000 for a holiday cottage. Red squares require you to stop at them even if you have spun a higher number as this is where you have to choose your career, get married and buy a house. Blue squares are optional but allow you to do things such as swapping your salary with another player - yippee, if you're on £50,000 you may just get the chance to steal the £100,000 salary from your opponent. Finally green spaces are 'payday' when your finances will be topped up ready to make your compulsory purchases on the orange squares or with a bit of luck to save to become the winner, because ultimately the winner is the one with the most money.
Travel around the board is made in little plastic cars; there are six of these in a variety of colours so anywhere between two and six people are able to play at any time. I love the little cars. They have six little holes in ready to place little pink and blue plastic pegs for the family members as they arrive in the game. Am I the only sad person who strives to gain as many people in her car as possible and gives them names? I'm happiest if I land on an orange baby square and add another little peg to my car; it's a bad game if I get to the end with just me and the compulsory husband! When you get a child, as well as some of the other positive events on the orange squares you win a life token. These all have a financial value for something outstanding that you have supposedly achieved in your life, such as £50,000 for running a record mile (in my dreams) and contribute to the overall financial total.
Other playing pieces include paper money similar to that in Monopoly that comes in denominations ranging between 5,000 and 100,000. They're actually international money and not called pounds, but it's easier for me to refer to them as pounds in this review. Sharkey's loan certificates are also available for those heading off on the risky financial route to university. It's even more risky in this game as your salary will not be higher if you take the study option, so I see little point in saddling myself with this debt and take the career route nine times out of ten. Your salary is determined by drawing a card from a small designated pack and then cheering when you draw £100,000 or groaning when the £20,000 is drawn and then keeping everything crossed hoping that you can manage to land on the swap salary card. Your career will also be allocated in a similar way, although some of the careers like doctor and accountant require you to have a degree so you'll have to put them back if your draw them. Police officer is a great career to choose as every time an opponent spins a 10 they have been caught speeding and have to pay you money. Whatever your job you'll hopefully have people paying you money whether it's the travel agent being paid when you go off on your holidays or the pop star when you go to a gig. But beware you may just have a mid life crisis and have to change career or if you're really unlucky you could be fired!
I like the point in the game where I have to choose my house. Again this is done by pulling a card from a pack - there's nine cards in our pack - I wonder if we lost one along the way. Now I quite fancy the country house at £200,000 but sods law I always end up with the caravan and feel put out that I still have pay £60,000 for this. It even has a gas works in the background of the picture. The money for these is paid into the bank and sadly you'll need one of those bank loans notes if you've not earned enough yet. Remember to allocate a banker to look after all of the reserves of money, just as you would in Monopoly, but they're not likely to be as busy in this game although pay days do come round quite rapidly and you'll need to remember everyone's individual salaries.
Insurance is important in this game, so early on in life children are learning that if they don't insure their house or car they could end up with a hefty bill when something goes pear shaped. So don't forget to buy your insurance certificates early on and by the way don't forget to pay off those loans as soon as possible too.
Fancy a dabble in stocks and shares? You can buy a share card with a number on and every time someone spins your number they have to pay up to you. I advise doing this early on in the game if you can afford it to maximise your earnings, but for some reason I always forget until it doesn't seem worth it.
So you've made it around the board with highs and lows along the way and it's time to retire - hip hip hooray! If you think that you are likely to have the most money head to the Millionaires mansion and await the other players to finish but be warned that your life tokens can be stolen by other players if the main pile has been emptied. If you think you have less money then head to the country estate where your life tokens are protected. When all players are retired count up the money of those who went to the mansion and the one who has most is given four extra life tokens that were placed there at the start of the game. All players then count up a grand total of their money and the value of their life token and the one with the most is the winner.
We have a lot of fun playing this game although I do wish sometimes my family would choose something a bit more educational to play, but suggesting Scrabble or Boggle just is not as popular. There really is no educational value to this game; it is pure entertainment. As our game still looks as good as new after so much use and because of its enduring popularity over many years, I can justifiably award it five stars.
Hasbro have just launched a new version of the game; Game of Life Adventures. This looks as though it could be lots of fun and has been updated to include popular activities of the 21st century. Play pieces also include planes and boats and you may go sky diving, trekking or go on honeymoon. This is being sold for £22.99 in Argos and £17.60 on Amazon and I'm sure will prove to be a popular update. This does seem to have pushed up the price of the original version and does seem a more realistic price. A Simpsons version and online versions are also available.
Summary: A game where you travel along life's path accumulating money as you move through life's highs & lows