LIFE. START YOURS OVER. JUST $24.95.
A COUPLE OF GAMEPLAYERS TAKE A WHOLE NEW TACK
Shari Rudavsky, Globe Correspondent
9 March 2003
The Boston Globe (Copyright 2003)
More than a century ago a Springfield lithographer devised "The Checkered Game of Life." The game proved a winner, not just for creator Milton Bradley, but for generations of Life players to come.
Now another Massachusetts man has entered the world of games with Living Life, a reality game that encourages players to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Living Life is the brainchild of a newlywed Allston man, who developed the game in the aftermath of Sept. 11 as a way to help others explore life.
"At a time like this when there's so much uncertainty, going through this has you think about what it means to live life to the fullest," said creator Jay Moore. "Some personal growth books have defined living life to the fullest, but this game has you define it for yourself. Each person has a different definition."
The game, now retailing at area shops for $24.95, consists of 30 activity cards. One suggests contacting old friends, another test-driving your dream car.
Moore had long dreamed of creating his own game, but it was not until after his 2001 marriage to Jamie Eslinger that his concept coalesced. He and his wife, a marketing specialist, were chatting one night about how ridiculous it is that reality shows aren't all that real.
What about a game, they asked themselves, where everything was real?
"I've always liked playing games, and I realized there wasn't a game based on the players where you were you and you were playing in the real world," said Moore, who founded his own company, Romherst - his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., melded with alma mater Amherst College - to produce and sell the game.
For every game sold, Romherst will donate at least 10 cents to the community fund of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.
Activities alternate between ones that require players to leave their homes and interact with others and those that rely on more personal introspection and meditation.
Living Life players can play on their own at their own pace or form groups of friends who get together regularly to share experiences. The concept stands out against most games that pit players against one another.
"Most games are incredibly competitive," said Carol Monica, owner of The Games People Play, a Cambridge store that sells Living Life. "You either win or lose, and this is one of the few where that does not happen. What was appealing about it was we love games that make people sit around and talk to each other."
The Allston couple have an abiding appreciation of games. Both college athletes, they spent their second date at a Philadelphia game emporium. To Jay's delight, Jamie "smoked" him at a science fiction virtual reality game.
"I thought this is fantastic," Jay recalled. "My date has beaten me."
Over the course of their courtship, games played a continuing role, with frequent evenings of Monopoly or Cranium alone or with friends. Then Moore decided to develop his own game. Working nights and weekends and often assisted by his wife, Moore came up with about 50 ideas for cards, which the couple winnowed down with the help of friends and family.
The 31st card that didn't make it in? Discover the joy of rain, take a walk outside in a storm. No thanks, friends said.
The game cautions players against looking ahead, wanting each activity to draw from former ones. The first directive: Watch a sunrise.
"It's a new beginning, a fresh look at the world," said Jamie. "There is momentum building throughout the game."
CITY WEEKLY / BOSTON NEIGHBORHOODS / ALLSTON
Caption: Jay and Jamie Moore share a laugh at their home. "I've always liked playing games," says Jay, "and I realized there wasn't a game . . . where
you were you."
/ GLOBE STAFF PHOTO / PAT GREENHOUSE
Romherst, Inc. is a Boston based company founded to develop, create and market games that allow its players to have fun feeling the excitement of living life to the fullest. The game, Living Life™, is the company's first release. Romherst, Inc. derives its name from a combination of the words Rochester and Amherst - the founder's hometown of Rochester, New York and his alma mater, Amherst College.
The United Way is a national organization dedicated to making a measurable impact in every community across America. The United Way movement includes approximately 1,400 community-based United Way organizations. Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers.