Years ago I wrote a post on the board game Life and how it’s both stupidly unrealistic and uncomfortably realistic at the same time. There’s another version of this game for even lazier people that doesn’t involve the annoying game board and teeny little people pegs that get lost in the carpet. It’s the Life Adventures card game and the Things and I love it.
If you thought the first game was random, this game just spits on that and says “Watch this.” You get four decks of cards, a “Family” deck, a “Wealth” deck, a “Career” deck, and an “Adventure” deck. Just like real life, that’s all there is – a job, money, family, and oh the adventure of making it to the next paycheck! Actually, just like the old game, the Adventure deck has you swimming with dolphins and crap. Big deal. I want important careers and expensive things! And children because they come with points!
Oh, right, I should explain the system a bit better. There’s no deciding whether to get a degree or not, or stopping to buy a house or get married. There’s really no deciding period, it’s just whatever the deck throws at you. So if you happen to draw one of the wedding cards, boom, you just got married. As it was in the old game, it doesn’t matter if you wanted a wedding or not, you got one. Suck it up. You can avoid the wedding if you simply avoid the Family deck altogether though, but you’re really missing great opportunities for advancement and hilarity.
There is no money in this game, but don’t worry, it’s still pure capitalism. Each card you receive has a number of points on it, depending on its value. So like getting one child gives you 20 points, but triplets nets you 60 points! You can get an igloo (and be happy about it!) for 40 points, but we all want the castle because it’s worth 90 points, and also because it’s a castle and so much better than that igloo that’s melting cause it’s in Texas.
In the old game you were stuck with one job unless you had a midlife crisis. You still get those here, but you don’t have to in order to have as many jobs as you like. You can be a rocket scientist, a rock star, and an exotic zoo veterinarian all at the same time. You’d better have multiple careers, though, cause while you can have as many jobs as you want, you only get three paydays per job, and each of those is 20 points. You can get 20 points just for popping out a baby! Thank goodness this is just a game, and no one works multiple jobs or has babies for money. Talk about silly!
But you’re probably wondering, don’t you need a degree for some of those jobs, Alice? Right you are! Some cards are not playable until you have another card first. So if you want to be a rocket scientist, you have to draw a degree card first. Just one, though, so whew about those pesky doctorates. Just one degree qualifies you for every job with a degree, but some jobs don’t require one at all like rock star and President. I’m just joking, there’s no President card. There is a politician one, though, and it comes with mega points, but you like need a degree? Far out.
You also need a boat (a bathtub will do) to sail solo around the world, or a plane (private jet please) to do the loop de loop, but you can go to the moon without a spaceship no probs. Also no home improvements without a house, though you can go through the whole game with no home if you want. Just wait, though, cause I haven’t gotten to Life’s version of Chance cards yet, and that’s where things get interesting.
You get to sue people, naturally, for any card with 30 points from their life story. This could be bad if, say, all they have is a house worth at least 30 points. Or a family shark. Or a kid. If you don’t like your job, you can just swap it with someone else’s. I know I certainly wanted to swap my job with Kim Kardashian’s. You donate to charity in this game, which is great, only you are making someone else donate to charity by force. Sort of like what happened to Bill Gates when he tried to keep all his goodies to himself and social media got madfaced. You can just directly take someone’s house, though you do have to give them one in return – the igloo for the castle trade, for instance. And did I mention children?
Yeah, like everything else, those little brats are commodities. There is more than one card where you can “adopt” a child or “find a long-lost relative” and just take someone’s child away. I used to think that was called “kidnapping” but apparently I was mistaken! You can also just have a midlife crisis and swap all the cards in your hand with another player. Doesn’t matter what cards are in their hand. I bet they were saving that lawsuit and castle and set of twins weren’t they? Too bad. It’s so funny when a family member screams “Don’t take my babies!”
Since this game gets a little cutthroat (it encourages us, what do you want?), the Things and I decided to make it even more fun by playing as fictional characters. Last time we went Star Wars and I played as Jar Jar Binks complete with “Meesa this” etc. that never, ever got old. Try imagining Jar Jar getting married, or worse, reproducing. I figured that was a bit over his head, so I just had him thinking hand shaking made the babies, while his Sith wife had kids with various Dark Side guys. This led into questions of “just how hard did she shake his hand” etc., as Han Solo (Thing Two) and C-3P0 (Thing One) plotted to murder me. You’ll be happy to know that we are a progressive family, so C-3PO got to marry R2-D2 at last and together they, er, built BB-8. At least it wasn’t as ridiculous as the time I played the Emperor and married and had kids – I mean who would marry that guy, am I right?
But in the end, Life’s just a game, isn’t it? You have your ups and downs, days when you are furious at your messy igloo, and days when people adopt your children from you. Que sera, sera!
When you saw this title, you might have thought, hey, this is going to be a post about the meaning of life, and how it’s a game, and like we’re actors on a stage flopping around like fish and getting bad reviews in the New York Times. Or something. But then you may have looked and seen this was written by Alice and gone, oh nevermind, she’s just going to talk to us about the actual game of Life and how goofed up it is.
And you’d be right! See the game of Life is supposed to mirror real life and it totally does cause most of us look like tiny pegs. Pink if you’re a girl, blue if you’re a boy. If you’re not sure there are no green pegs, sorry. And no one cares if you hate pink or blue, deal with it.
First off, you have to decide if you want to go to college or get a job. Just like in real life, it doesn’t really matter what you choose. When it comes time to get a job, you’re just as likely to make more money without college as you are if you go to college. So it’s just whether you want to borrow the money or not. Or you can always rob the bank while the banker isn’t looking. That also works, and it’s a possible career track.
Not really. Well, not in this game anyway. You’re thinking Grand Theft Auto. Anyway, if you go to college, you can land on stuff like “make the Dean’s list” or “Spring Break vacation” or “Cheat on your exams.” In the case of the last one, you get to move ahead two spaces, or you would if it was an actual option, which it really should be. The other two can get you Life tokens, which have different money amounts on the back. You get to add this to your total. So if you write the “Great American Novel” you get something like 100,000 bucks. On the other hand, if you write the “Great Shades of Crap” you get like a couple million.
There is a theme to this game. See, to succeed in the game of Life, you have to be the player with the most money at the end. Yups. Not the player who cured Cancer, or gives food to starving people, or even just raises a nice family. No, this is an AMERICAN game, folks, so he who has the most cash wins life. It’s best to teach this to kids early.
Whether you go to college or not, you eventually end up on the “Get a Job” space that so many young people try to avoid. But unless you are born wealthy (in which case you’ve already “won” hoorah!) you have no choice but to stop here. In fact, the game makes you stop, which sucks. Then comes the part where you get to randomly choose jobs and salaries. Because you have different cards for your job and your salary, this means you can be a really bad rock star making 20,000 a payday or a really dirty cop making 100,000. I like being the cop because I can fine people who spin 10 even though I almost always spin 10 because I speed through life. See how REAL this game is?
After you get your randomly selected job – and this will be a job you didn’t want but were stuck with (so familiar) – then the next step is to get married. Again, you don’t have a choice on this one. You MUST stop and find a spouse. When I played this as a kid, I had a friend who resented having to get married, so she’d sometimes put another pink peg in her car, or put multiple pegs in her car (future polygamist). This annoyed me because that was NOT the proper way to play the game. Did she not see the happy nuclear family (who is probably getting drugs from the dirty cop) on the cover? Sheesh.
So you get married to a random peg and hooray hope you’re happy because there is no divorce space in this game. You and spouse peg continue on a few more spaces and you get to buy a house! Once again, this is completely random. You choose blindly from three cards and MUST buy the house listed on the card whether you can afford it or not. Sometimes you go into major debt doing this. If you don’t, you’re stuck with something like the “split level” house that is actually built on a fault line – get it? Actually it kind of reminds me of the first house my husband and I lived in. Anyway, either way, you’re kind of screwed. This is so true to life it’s a little scary, isn’t it?
Once you have a house you can have a baby at any time. No birth control in this game, guys, so I guess everybody is Catholic. There are eight baby spots, one in which you have twins, and another in which you adopt twins. You don’t get to choose to adopt either, it just happens. When I was in high school, we played this game in Economics. One of my classmates ended up hitting every single baby spot. Since there are only six spots in the car, he ended up stacking his kids up on the top of the car like cordwood. He named each one something totally bizarre just for fun. Another classmate was sad because she never landed on a kid spot, so he was kind enough to offer to sell her his son Lightbulb for 50 dollars. A real steal.
My children (I landed on two pink pegs!) and I continue this tradition and name our husbands and children names with a theme like say toilet paper (Charmin, Angel Soft, Store Brand, etc). It makes the game more interesting. You need something to keep it interesting because trust me, after a while Life gets very, very dull. You keep doing the same old thing, spinning your wheel and collecting pay days as the days of your life diminish one by one, or by tens, if you play like I do.
Good thing real life is totally different in this case, right? Right?
Moving on, sometimes you lose your job and have to choose another. It’s a real pain going from being a cop making 100 grand to a crappy basketball player making 20 grand. Talk about your midlife crisis. Sometimes you have to exchange salary cards with other players, which I think is called extortion, but whatever. I rarely care much about the money thing because then I’d have to count my pretend cash and bo-ring. The girls and I estimate because this game is educational enough without adding Math to it.
As you get to the end of your life, you may become a grandparent, which is really weird if you didn’t have any children earlier. This is the point where you kick the spouse peg out of the car if you’re smart. Also you should really kick the kid pegs out too, but the game never gives you a chance to do this, so I guess they stay with you FOREVER, which is an incredibly frightening prospect. At last you end up retiring – you can either go to the lousy old folks home, or you can go to the posh one. But if you go to posh one, people can steal your Life tokens. So lesson learned – don’t go to a nice home, because people will steal your money while you’re playing shuffleboard. Best to stick with something like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. No one will think you have anything to steal if you go there.
So now your Life is over, and you count up your money and see what you’ve done with your Life. Is that it? I think you’d be better off playing Sorry.