Sunday, November 29, 2009

Twists and Turns in the Game of Life

They say life imitates the arts, but what about board games?  I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing The Game of Life with the kids.  While I do feel quite a bit of nostalgia for the old school car with the pink and blue peg people, I have to say that the new and improved game is pretty darn cool.  Each player gets a "credit card" which you enter into a little machine that keeps track of everyone's accumulated net worth and life points.  So much cooler than fake money!

The board is broken into 4 different life areas:  Learn It, Earn It, Love It, and Live It.  We all decided that we should go through Learn It to get an education, which would maximize our potential salaries later on.  All good, and a great real life lesson I thought.  

But then, Guinness accidentally took a short cut through Learn It, didn't get a college degree, won the lottery, was on the cover of a magazine, doubled his $100,000 investment in a business venture, bought a sports car and mansion, got married, and had twins.  We laughed him for skipping college (he kept saying he was going to go back to Learning and get a college degree - until he won the lottery), but he ended up winning the game with 4 times as many points as the rest of us.

Cayman and Ellington, both frivolously spent their money on expensive sports cars, but at least they got their college educations!   And they came in second and third, respectively.  And I, cursed with rolling ones, basically took the equivalent of 7 years to graduate.  Because we had set a limit of 10 turns, I never made it through the Earn It section to get any promotions in order to reap the benefits of my education!  I took a risky gamble on a business venture and lost.  So I ended up dead last, severely in debt.

What type of life lessons is Milton Bradley trying to teach us!?!?

Well, not much from the content of the game, but great lessons about sportsmanship and empathy from the playing of the game itself.  Guinness and Cayman were so patient with Ellington, helping him to read the cards and telling him how to enter amounts into the machine.  And Ellington felt so bad about me being left behind in Learn It while everyone else moved on in Life that he kept crawling into my lap to give me hugs, promising to come back and "save me".

I really hope life doesn't imitate The Game of Life - at least this particular round.  But I suppose better that than any round of Clue:  yes, I can see my kids trapped in a spooky mansion trying to track down Colonel Mustard killing Miss Scarlett in the billiard room with a candlestick.  

Come to think of it, that's a pretty fun game!  I think a trip to the toy store is in order....

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