The Game of Life
It’s been a while since I’ve played Life. My older kids (19 and 17 years old) are really not interested in board games and haven’t been since they discovered video games. My two younger kids (8.83 and 5.92 years old) have recently rediscovered these gems that were long ago relegated to the far reaches of the basement, however, and LIFE hasn’t been quite the same since then.
Now I am greeted in the morning with an obligatory good morning, followed immediately with the question, “Do you want to play Life?” or “Can we please play Spy Alley?” Don’t get me wrong – I’m SO glad they are requesting board games! They require cooperation, communication, creativity … most of which are all lacking when they choose the alternate – those dreaded video games!!
I couldn’t help but laugh as I played The Game of Life with my youngest yesterday! How closely it emulates real life, right?
As the players spin and move around the board, they land on squares that are supposed to replicate …. LIFE. One of several things may happen: the car lands on a happy little square where you’ve done something grand and you get to choose a LIFE card (seemingly no big deal immediately, but WOW … it pays off later in life!); the car lands on a happy little square where you’ve done something grand and you realize immediate financial gain; OR the car lands on a sad little square and you pay money either to the bank or to other players for a plethora of reasons (taxes, tattoos, and TVs to name just a few). But the number of happy, financial beneficial squares outweigh the sad, cost-incurring squares, so …… LIFE IS GOOD! 🙂
Each player begins with a car. HEY! I never began life WITH a car! Before I could get a car, I had to have a job and have money in the bank so I could make payments.
The players are given the option to buy or NOT to buy automobile insurance. That’s not even a CHOICE for most of us. In Minnesota, a licensed vehicle MUST carry liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, and under-insured motorist coverage. To opt out of this is illegal and carries a significant fine if the indiscretion is discovered. Buying automobile insurance WILL save you cash later in the game, however, if you happen to land on one of those sad, cost-incurring squares declaring you’ve been in an accident. So while this does not quite imitate the legal consequences to non-insured motorists, it DOES imitate risk-avoidance assessment!
Each player can choose to go to college, acquiring immediate debt. OK, admittedly that part is incredibly realistic, but the debt incurred in the game is a mere pittance in comparison to actual debt incurred by young adults unequipped with wealthy parents – which are NOT an option in this game! Deciding against college is an option in the game but will limit your salary immediately. OK, that is probably pretty realistic, too.
Quite often a spin can result in passing TWO PAYDAY squares simultaneously. Sweet! I would LOVE that option in real life! How do I sign up?
Securing employment is not optional in Life. Everyone has to work if they expect to proceed! What a noble concept that is! You can, however, choose from a few career cards ranging from a rock star to a doctor, with a number of obsoleted careers falling in between those choices. And you’ll have some options regarding an associated (or not!) salary! Beware though, because if you BEGIN your career as a doctor earning $100K per year, someone MAY have the privilege of exchanging salaries with you midway through Life while remaining in their same career! That’s realistic, right?
You don’t WANT to get married? Tough. You can’t proceed without a spouse! But take heart … You’ll also get a LIFE card (with the promise of future riches!) with that spouse! It’s as though that spouse came with a modern-day dowry! And per my youngest (and wittiest?) child, women CANNOT be in the driver’s seat. It’s to dangerous. Even WITH insurance! (What da ….. ? Makes me wonder whom he’s been talking to!)
You don’t WANT a house? Again, if you want to proceed, you’ll have to buy one! And again, insurance is entirely optional, mortgage or not. Realistic …. um, no. Definitely not. But it’s a consistent (just not fair or well thought out) 25% of the value of your chosen home, whether you choose the home on Monsoon Bay, the Victorian mansion with a nicely manicured lawn, or entry level, split-level, fixer-upper dump!
You don’t WANT kids? You don’t get to choose that for yourself but kids come with Life cards, too! It’s incentive to have MORE kids. Load up the car, Honey! One day this will all pay off financially!!
There are stock options, too, where you can either make a small fortune or dole out a few easily earned pay checks to the bank. We ignore those. I decided to do that after observing the deer-in-headlights stare after I tried to explain stock options to a five-year-old. THAT probably emulates Life since I don’t really have a good grasp of the stock market and largely ignore it myself! 🙂
As each player spins their way into retirement, there exists a choice to live at either Countryside Acres or Millionaire Estates. Either way, you’ll end up retiring wealthy as all those Life cards are redeemed so it’s a win-win situation. Assessing your accomplishments, totaling their value, and counting your cash at the end of the game of Life will determine the REAL winner. In this case, yes, the old saying rings true: He who retires with the most money wins!
In hindsight, I’m not sure if I inadvertently taught Owen that material STUFF with great monetary value are the greatest goals in Life. I could argue with myself (and I always win!!!) that he is learning turn-taking, counting, the concepts of banking, and the fleeting nature of money, and risk-assessment. But he’s five. The latter items are entirely unnecessary for him however at this stage of his Life!
I guess the game DID teach him a few things though. He probably noted that he was broke after spending money on things he didn’t really need to have … that lake cabin and sailboat comes quickly to mind! He also likely noticed that, as we journey through Life, events will likely occur that will not have been in our own foreseeable future.
He probably missed the very real lesson that risk is inherent in Life. Some risks will require more thought or effort than others and may or may not work in our favor. We will take other risks that afford less effort and garner and the payback might end up being incredible, even if delayed.
My own Life has been fraught with risk. While I’ve taken numerous risks, there has been one risk I’ve been unwilling to take. That would be the risk of neglecting to entrust my Life to Christ. With Him, the journey can still be bumpy but without him the end is so very, very bleak. With Christ as my Savior, I WILL end up at Millionaire Estates regardless of my financial status here on earth.
Where will YOU retire? Do you know? Don’t risk it … It won’t bode well for you, Friend.