Tabletop Game: Game of Life

The Game of Life, originally known as The Checkered Game of Life, is a game created by Milton Bradley in which you literally go through your life, from college to retirement. Along the way, you start a career, get married, and even have children, if you're lucky. As many as ten people can play the game.

You begin the game with two choices: go to college, start out with minus $20,000, but have more career options; or, go immediately into a job, but have fewer career options. Soon after that, you travel a bit before getting married. Then, you own a house. After that, it's pretty much free-for-all. You can land on spaces that cause you to lose your job, gain LIFE tiles, have children, and more. Finally, at retirement, you can choose to live in Countryside Acres or Millionaire Estates.

This game was America's first popular parlor game. It shouldn't be confused with the cellular automaton "game" created by John Horton Conway.

In 1998, a CD version of the game was created, and in 2005, the game was released with a few changes.

Special editions of the board games have been created for various franchises, such as, Pirates of the Caribbean (2004), Pokémon (Japan only), and Family Guy (2008).

Video game versions have been created for the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo Wii, and bundles with the game Hasbro Family Game Night, which is available for PlayStation and Xbox 360. There's also an iPhone app.

A game show based on the board game premiered on September 17, 2011, but was canceled in May 2012.

The board game provides the following franchise tropes note :

  • Big First Choice: Rare non-video game example: going to college affects how much money you start with, your career options, and your earning potential (which will in turn affect your likelihood of retiring well-off).
  • Boring but Practical: The spinner.
  • Cherry Tapping: It's possible to be a doctor (the highest paying job in the game at $100,000) and live in a mobile home. Pretty embarrassing if your friend is a simple police officer and lives in a Victorian mansion.
  • Extra Turn: After you land on one of the three "stop" squares (Career Choice, Get Married, Buy a House) and follow its instructions, you spin again immediately.
  • Fictional Currency: Ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 bills.
  • Luck-Based Mission: On par with Candy Land, but with less room for house rules that add strategy.
    • When it's time to buy a house, you draw just one card. It can be anything from a mobile home to a Victorian mansion.
    • You get children only if you land on certain spaces, which are distributed more frequently toward the first half of the game.
  • Min-Maxing: While there's little opportunity to exploit the rules of the game, from a purely mathematical standpoint...
    • The accountant is the highest-paying job. It has the most spaces where players must pay you, and you never pay taxes.
      • On the flip side, the police officer is the worst job. It has exactly one space on an optional path. Its primary source of income is from "speeding tickets"; anyone that spins a 10 must pay $5,000 to the police officer. It's a glorified stock option, but even those pay twice as much.
    • Children are bad. Their only purpose is to make you pay money on some spaces, and they give no benefits in return except for the Life tile you gain on having one.
    • The best house to get is one that has recently been split apart by an earthquake, because it is the cheapest. The worst house to have is the luxurious Victorian, because it is the most expensive. There are no in-game benefits to living in comfort. (Although which house you get is entirely up to luck of the draw.)
    • Never get auto or house insurance, because there are very few spaces which penalize you for being uninsured, and you have a better-than-even chance of avoiding all of them in any given playthrough.
  • Multiple Game Openings: Before you begin your first turn, you must choose whether to start on the College path or the Career path.
    • If you choose College, you begin $40,000 in debtMath! , although this is peanuts compared to what you'll earn later. The College path is nearly three times the length of the Career path, and has two "lose a turn" spaces, but there are no disadvantages to lagging behind the other players. About three turns in, you can then choose from three randomly drawn Careers and three randomly drawn salaries.
    • If you choose Career, you do not start in debt, you get your career and salary right away, and you earn an extra paycheck right away. However, the career and salary you get will likely be worse than if you choose the College path. You are locked out of the potentially most profitable jobs, and you must take the first career and salary you draw.
    • The two paths merge less than 10% into the game.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Men and boys are represented by blue pegs, and women and girls are pink.
  • Spin-Off: The Game of Life: Twists & Turns
  • Variable Player Goals: Averted. Every player's goal is to get the most money at the end of the game. This is in stark contrast to "Careers", a more obscure board game with a similar premise, where every player can define their own winning conditions.

The 1998 PC game provides the following tropes note :