10 January 2010

Game of 'Life' is no game

Game of 'Life' is no game

By Nicole E. Avery GVL Columnist

Remember the board game called The Game of Life?

It was originally created in 1860 as a checker board game by Milton Bradley and called simply The Checkered Game of Life. I didn't realize the game was that old or that possibly Charles Dickens or Nathaniel Hawthorn could have played it. As time went on the game evolved and ironically the latest edition, done in 2005, includes a "lawsuit" feature at which I can't help but smile.

I played it recently with some close friends. The idea of playing came up as a joke started after my friend mentioned earlier he had been sent home as a disciplinary action from his Meijer job with the advice from his manager to "take the time to consider his future."

We set up the board and I was allowed to pick my little plastic sedan first and place it at the start.

From the very beginning of the game you're accosted with decision making. The first choice was deciding whether to take out $100,000 in tuition loans or go straight to a career -- of course I picked the most realistic to my own life and chose the debt.

Since none of the people playing were under the age of 12, it went relatively fast. I'll admit it was fun. I became a wealthy accountant, while my friend who got sent home from his job went through three careers, filled up his plastic minivan with children and with every other turn was either fined, taxed, sued or in some sort of accident resulting in medical fees.

In the end, my friend managed to pay off his massive debt just in the nick of time before entering retirement.

I -- of course -- won the game, but when I found myself gloating over my successful fictitious life I started to wonder what was the point of this game.

The game has obvious undertones that suggest every choice leads to another choice, and if you make a well-thought-out choice you'll eventually come out on top.

Of course I'm not going to let a board game give me a false sense of achievement or confidence because it is only a simulation of life, but it was nice to be successful at something, and the idea that making smarter choices in the present will pay off in the future isn't that far stretched of a concept.

Life isn't as cut and dry as a board game but every action does have a reaction. The wrong choices seem to spiral out of control similar to a horrifying domino effect.

If I could save myself some grief by making a more conscious effort to be aware of my own actions and choices, I think the benefit would be well worth my time.


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