LIFE (Choices) -- My ArtPrize Boardgame Art
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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In my previous geeklist:

Boardgames as Art -- My ArtPrize 2011 Entry

I chronicled the development and execution of my boardgame-themed entry for ArtPrize 2011. I'm proud to say that my work is complete and delivered, and ArtPrize begins this week!



This geeklist will explore some of the meaning behind the choices I made while creating this work, and show how some common boardgames were used as the medium for a piece of art that reflects on the choices we make in our lives.

Life itself is filled with a myriad of choices made both by us and for us. We and others live with the consequences of these choices both immediately and forever as we affect all future events with our presence and decisions.

As we on this website are well aware, a "good" boardgame offers us a chance to make interesting choices and live with the consequences. Sometimes these choices are made with a theme of a simulation of real-life events, sometimes they allow us to role-play themes and decisions that are far outside what our real-life experiences are.

Ironically (to those of us who frequent boardgamegeek.com), The Game of Life is the exact opposite of a "good" game. It offers hardly any real choices that affect game outcome at all. But, I wanted the piece to be about life, and I felt that it needed a eye-catching feature that would draw people from across the room for a closer inspection. I decided to make the most prominent part of the piece be huge (4 feet tall) block letters spelling the word LIFE.

See how many other games you can spot!

Update! September 22. ArtPrize opened last night, and this morning I'm in the top 25 for the Hillside district! Thanks for the support!
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1. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.21 Overall Rank:16021]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Obviously, the large letters spell "Life". The piece is about our lives and the choices we make, using boardgame parts as a metaphor. Inside the large letters, scrabble tiles form the letters for:

"Your decisions make the difference"

The scrabble tiles themselves, read in an inward clockwise spiral on each letter, in order, form the Robert Frost poem "The road not taken":

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


and an excerpt from the lyrics of the song "Freewill" by Rush:

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete.
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

and a quote from Jesus from the gospel of John chapter 15

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit,
fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask
in my name the Father will give you.
This is my command: Love each other


I painted wooden tiles black, white, and shades of grey to represent the bad, good, and uncertain choices we make, and formed a path that weaves all through the letter's negative space through scenes made from boardgame pieces.

The path is populated by hundreds of meeples, representing everyday people going about their lives' activities, making choices and moving forward in the "game" of Life.
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2. Board Game: Start Player [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2768]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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All games need to begin somewhere, and this one begins in the hospital as meeples are born into the world.



They start out white (innocent) and resolve into pink or blue meeples (girls and boys). Some leave with families, but some are aborted and leave the world. The message here is:

'Some choices are made for you'
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3. Board Game: Careers [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:5011]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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The game of Careers provides the backdrop for meeples moving into adulthood. The message here is:

'Who you become is a choice'
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4. Board Game: Power Barons [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:14323]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Meeples into careers now round the corner and are involved in industry. The message says:

'What you work for is a choice'
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5. Board Game: 221B Baker Street: The Master Detective Game [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:3659]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Some meeples visit the museum, while some end up in the pub. One is passed out :-). The message says:

'How you spend your time is a choice'
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6. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:184]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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A scene of Medieval Europeans (on Carcassonne tiles) expanding and running into natives (on Tikal tiles), and a group of white people in Europe near the words:

'Colonization was a choice'
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7. Board Game: Bull Run [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:6551]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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I've got several battle scenes ... the civil war, the war for Independence, urban warfare. There is a message that says:

'What you are willing to fight for is a choice'
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8. Board Game: Clue [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:7914]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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In the Clue lounge, a band plays for a crowd. The message says:

'What you select for entertainment is a choice'
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9. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1210]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Axis and Allies pieces on a Risk board re-enact WWII. The message says:

'Endless war is a choice'
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10. Board Game: Greed Incorporated [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1649]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Container ships leave China, where the message is:

'Oppression is a choice'

and arrive in the US, where the message says:

'Consumerism is a choice'

Bars of gold are shipped back to China, and protected by warships.
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11. Board Game: Ghettopoly [Average Rating:4.62 Overall Rank:15383]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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White meeples in nice houses, and black meeples in small ones. The message says:

'Segregation is a choice'
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12. Board Game: Hail to the Chief [Average Rating:4.34 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Red and Blue state meeples. The message says:

'Your representation is a choice'
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13. Board Game: Africa [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:3582]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Black meeples in Africa.

'Foreign aid is a choice'
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14. Board Game: Fear and Faith [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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'What you believe is a choice'
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15. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:16019]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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'Crime is a choice'
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16. Board Game: Eat It! [Average Rating:4.25 Overall Rank:14873]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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These meeples took the low road, and there are some messages here:

'Turning your life around is a choice'

'Gluttony is a choice'

'Unfaithfulness is a choice'

Some meeples are pursuing Clue's Miss Scarlet.
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17. Board Game: Masterpiece [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:11646]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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The low road meeples pass the jail on the way to the end
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18. Board Game: Loaded Questions [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:4932] [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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The meeples arrive at the Day of Reckoning. Some turn towards the dark path, and some towards the light.

'Repentance is a choice'
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19. Board Game: Stratego: The Chronicles of Narnia [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:11555]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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These meeples have made their final choices on the path to light, and turn white as they pass through the pearly gates into heaven

'Choices lead to your final reward'
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20. Board Game: Dragon Strike [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:4274]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Some meeples have made their final choices, and turn dark as they pass into the dark path

'Choices lead to consequences'
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