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Creeping Doom
Canada
Scarborough
Ontario
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This is my first review of a game on this website and I feel compelled to do so because of the deluge of negative and unfair reports I read after playing this game. My friend has an annual Thanksgiving party for people who have no where else to go and after dinner we opened up an unused Game of Life. All the participants aged 30+, but our friends from China and Japan had never seen the game before. It was a fun distraction from the lopsided football games on TV.

I imagine everyone out there knows the game, but here’s a quick synopsis of the rules and game-play of one of the newer versions. The game of life takes you from post-high school to retirement in a linear “spin-the-wheel-and-move-forward” format. There are only a few forks in the road but there’s little difference resulting from the path you choose. Your first decision is whether to go to college or chose a career (in the form of a Career Card and a somewhat randomly selected Salary Card). If you chose a career immediately you avoid debt but risk getting a lower paying job (that doesn’t require a degree) for the non-existent advantage of jumping ahead of everyone on the board. Your career comes into play as you pass payday spaces and on certain spaces where the other players have to pay you (e.g. you pay your taxes to the accountant). As you move along the board you make and lose money as dictated by the space you land on. Certain spaces award you Life tokens which are cash bonuses which boost you score when they are revealed at the end of the game. Red spaces force everyone to stop on to get married, or buy and sell a house. The most interesting spaces are the blue ones which allow you to choose to follow their instructions or not. These have a profound affect on the outcome of the game such as allowing players to swap salaries with one another (ah, the joys of teaching for $100 000/payday). A neat little distraction allows you to buy “stock” in the form of a number, which pays $10 000 each time someone spins it on the wheel (keeping everyone’s interest even when it’s not their turn). When you reach the end (retirement) you count your assets and whomever has the most money wins. There’s a twist at the end where the richest players can have their Life Tokens taken by those who haven’t retired yet in order to lower their score.

The bottom line is that it’s a no-brainer, dicefest (well a roulette-wheel-fest) which relies on luck and not skill. This can be thought of as one of the good qualities of the game as first-time players stand as good a chance of winning as experienced players (i.e. younger children can beat their older siblings) and understanding the rules is easy and straightforward. It’s the simple type of game which fills 45 minutes on a rainy afternoon so games such as this should be in every parents/grandparents collection. It’s not for a round table of strategists, but we all enjoyed it while our turkey digested.

The comments about the game which concern me deal with the negative aspects of a game called “Life” which forces everyone to get a high paying job, marry, and collect wealth in order to die with the most money. I think this is a dangerous mindset for any gamer as it is almost impossible to find a game which doesn’t have a basis stemming from antisocial behavior. That’s the drawing point, that you can pretend to take over the world as a maniacal dictator in an afternoon and then return to the real world. Games help teach children the important lesson of separating reality from fantasy which is a necessity in the MTV/Pokemon world they grow up in, and you should address this when playing with them. I think if your worried that “The Game of Life” is going to adversely influence your children you’ll never be able to enjoy the friend and family togetherness of a board game night. Keep in mind that even venerable Chess is abstract game of war filled with casualties and deception.

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Patrick B
United States
Saint Louis
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That's odd; in every boardgame store in Tokyo in 2006, I saw that game.

Wonder if things changed that significantly?
 
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