Who didn’t like game time as a kid? There were so many classics: Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Monopoly, Sorry!, Trouble. It was so much fun to sit around a table with classmates or family members and battle to see who would be the crowned the winner. I secretly—well, maybe not so secretly—loved to be the one who had the last checker standing. Charlie Sheen was really on to something when he kept spouting off about “Winning!” during his meltdown. Though I’m sure his definition was quite different from having the best word score in Scrabble.
Board games have clear-cut rules and a concrete goal which, being a Type-A person, I love. Everyone operates under the same clear path with the same guidelines. No room for questions. Whether you’re trying to sink your opponent’s battleship or solve the murder of Mr. Boddy (or Dr. Black for those not in North America), there are certain steps you must take to get to get to the end of the game. Each game comes with directions that tell you how to set up the game, how to play, and how to win.
In the Game of LIFE, players spin the wheel and move to spaces that mark life events like graduation and marriage on their way to the Day of Reckoning where one could either end up at Millionaire Acres or the Poor Farm. Land on a 3, move your card forward three spaces. No more, no less. You will collect a spouse and you may or may not collect children—each noted as blue or pink colored pegs riding along in your car game piece.
As a kid, I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up and LIFE was a joy for me to play. It was all so easy. Spin the wheel, live a life. Sometimes, it was a great life; other times, not so much. You got a job, maybe got a promotion. Marriage was inevitable and children were sometimes added to the mix. It was a blast to add those little pegs to your car and hear the tick-tick-tick of the wheel preparing to stop on a number.
As an actual adult, I find the game a little depressing.
The bright colors are fun and the little houses on the board are unique, but it really gets you thinking about your own life. Real life has some important rules—not committing murder for one—but there are no directions on how to get from Start to Finish, no squares to land on that dictate what kind of career you will have, how much your inheritance will be, or whether your marriage will last. You may not go to college. Weddings might be called off (as unfortunately happened to a family member today). Infertility may rob you of the family you desire or cancer may rob you of the life you could have had. It’s a crapshoot.
But you must still play.
I can’t remember a single time I ever started playing a game and didn’t want to win. It’s natural to want to achieve, to be the best. Why wouldn’t you want to do so in the ultimate game of life? You have to make your own decisions without the turn of a wheel. Your car may break down along the way and you may never have children or a spouse riding with you, but that doesn’t mean you stop. Everyone’s life is different. The important thing to remember is not necessarily to win the game, but to play the game as best as you possibly can.
And for the record, it was Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a candlestick.