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The Game of Life: Board Game History and Review

Claudia has been creating content one post at a time for more than seven years and writes about a variety of subjects.

The Game of Life is a classic that's still fun today.

The Game of Life is a classic that's still fun today.

Are you looking for a new game for family game night? Is your son asking for a game for his next birthday? Do you need a last-minute gift for a friend? If you are not quite sure what game to buy on your next trip to the toy store, then consider Milton Bradley's The Game of Life.

The Game of Life has been around for over 150 years, and it is pretty likely that many of you reading this have played it. However, if you have never played the game and want to find out more about it, then read on to learn more about the game's history and the many versions through the years. You'll also get a firsthand review.

Taking you on a road trip through life's twist and turns, The Game of Life is a fun-filled game for family and friends that won't disappoint.


Considered America's first popular board game, The Game of Life was originally invented by Milton Bradley in 1860. A newer version, redesigned by toymakers Reuben Klamer and Bill Markham, was introduced in 1960. Subsequent modifications have been made over the years, resulting in the much-beloved game played today.

Originally, the game resembled a chessboard where players landed on good spots or bad spots and collected money based on where they landed. In the reinvented version, players travel around a game board that resembles a road through life. Since its reintroduction, the game has been adjusted slightly around 8 times.


Over the years, there have been many versions of The Game of Life, including computer games, video games, and some limited editions. The following table lists some of the versions that have been available over the years.

Table Data taken from



Monsters, Inc.


Card Game


Fame Edition


Star Wars: A Jedi's Path


Pirates of the Caribbean


The Simpsons Edition


Bikini Botton SpongeBob SquarePants Edition


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest


Twists and Turns Edition


The Game of Life Express


Wii Game


Indiana Jones Edition


SpongeBob SquarePants Edition


Family Guy Edition


The Wizard of Oz Edition


Haunted Mansion Theme Park Edition


iPhone Game


High School Edition


Rock Star Edition

Game Specifications


# of Players

2 to 6


9 to Adult

Game Duration

1 hour (approximately)

The game board features a spinning wheel in the center.

The game board features a spinning wheel in the center.

Layout and Objective

Layout: With a spinning number wheel in the center of the game board, the player chooses a car and starts the game by choosing whether to start a career or go to college. The players wind their ways along the road of life, getting married, buying a home, having children, and experiencing humorous and slightly exaggerated highs and lows of life.

Objective: The objective of the game is to be the player who ends the game with the most money. It is not about who finishes first.


While the recommended minimum age for The Game of Life is 9 years old, our family has been playing this since our daughter was about 6 years old. One of us would pair up with her to help her out when she was younger. This game is now one of our top choices on family game night. The following observations are based on my many years of playing The Game of Life.


  • Educational—Math, reading, and decision-making skills are needed.
  • Fun Challenges—Everyone gets a kick out of their opponent having to buy a lakeside cabin for $120,000 and they also enjoy winning a TV Dance show along with $100,000.
  • Easy Setup—It is much easier to set up the game than it is to put it away. It comes with a plastic bank and plenty of play money and game pieces.
  • Length—It is a lengthy game, but if you have a long stormy night ahead of you, it's perfect.


  • Directions—The directions included in the game can be confusing, and they are not well laid out. They are always by our side when we are playing, and we have to refer to them often. There are even some aspects of the game that we skip over because we are unsure of what to do.
  • Storage—While the game board is entertaining with hills and bridges to go over, it is not easy to put away. We put all of the small pieces on the bottom before the game board goes in. The board is a trifold, and if it is not folded the right way, it does not fit. The bank and money need to go in between layers, which is also not easy to do.
  • Small Pieces—The "people" pieces that are used are incredibly small and get lost easily. They also fall out of their designated holes in the "car" game pieces.
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Despite the cons, The Game of Life is a fun game. Children love playing it because they enjoy making grown-up decisions. Adults enjoy playing it because of the outlandish life events that come their way. Everyone likes playing it because of the companionship and challenges it offers.

If you don't have it already, go out and buy The Game of Life for your family. You'll all have a great time!


  • The Game of Life, Milton Bradley

How many stars do you give The Game of Life?

© 2012 Claudia Porter


Claudia Porter (author) on November 29, 2012:

Thanks Millionaire Tips. There are great deals on them out there right now and it's a fun one, albeit a little long. I appreciate the comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on November 29, 2012:

Thanks so much tillsontitan! I did not know there were so many versions either until I wrote this hub. I saw another out there when I was shopping the other day.

Shasta Matova from USA on November 28, 2012:

You know, for as many board games as we have (and we do play them regularly) you would think we would have this one on the shelf, but we don't. I think we tried it once and didn't think much of it, but I am not sure. Great review with the history. I didn't realize there were that many editions either.

Mary Craig from New York on November 28, 2012:

Excellent review Glimmer, especially since it is something we've all played at one time or another in one of its versions. I never knew it had so many different versions!!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Claudia Porter (author) on November 04, 2012:

Teaches - My daughter loves that too. One time she had about 8 kids and thought that would be the most fun thing ever! Thanks for the comments and I'm glad the hub brought back memories!

Claudia Porter (author) on November 04, 2012:

watergeek - Isn't that game a little like Carcassone?

Claudia Porter (author) on November 04, 2012:

Daisy - I did not know there were so many versions either. I guess it's a good marketing tool to sell more games. Thanks for commenting.

Claudia Porter (author) on November 04, 2012:

Fpherj! Don't give up yet! The new versions may take you on a whole different ride in life! Your comment made me crack up. Thanks!

Dianna Mendez on November 03, 2012:

This was our favorite family game when my son was young. We had so much fun playing this game. I think to him it was funny to think of being married with kids. Thanks for bringing back the memories, I gave it 5 stars!

Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on November 03, 2012:

Mine was Settlers of Catan. Under "watergeek" I've restricted myself to writing about water in one form or other, whereas this game is more about land development. So if I write a hub, it will be under my other name "Sustainable Sue." However, if somebody else is passionate about this game and wants to write on it, by all means do!!

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on November 03, 2012:

Who knew there were so many versions of it!! I only played this for the first time a few weeks ago, as our housemates have it. It is quite fun! Voted up!

Suzie from Carson City on November 03, 2012:

Glimmer....Oh, please! I played so many games of Life with my kids in the years gone by.....I can happily say, "I've finally given up on Life!!" LOL

Claudia Porter (author) on November 02, 2012:

Hi Mhatter - Glad you enjoyed the hub. It is amazing how many games are out there and this one has really hung around a long time.

Claudia Porter (author) on November 02, 2012:

I might have to download the app to my phone. Thanks for reading!

Claudia Porter (author) on November 02, 2012:

Thanks so much Denise. I had no idea how old the game was until I was writing this.

Claudia Porter (author) on November 02, 2012:

Thanks watergeek! Now I am curious what your favorite game was. I appreciate the comments.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 01, 2012:

Good review. I have this game. I have been a "board" game collector since the age of 8.

David Livermore from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 01, 2012:

I remember this game as a kid, and I didn't quite understand what was going on half the time. I usually play it on my iPhone now, but nothing like the real thing. Voted up!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on November 01, 2012:

Interesting history. Good job on the presentation and photos. :)

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on November 01, 2012:

Ha! I could see that, Glimmer. The funny thing is my daughter loves to play Life on the Wii, probably because it does all the tricky calculations for you. When we bought the board game version, it seemed like it was trying to force you to play electronic-style, when all we really wanted was some easy reckoning at the end that we could do in our heads.

Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on November 01, 2012:

Very nice layout. Looks like it could be a fun game too (lol). It actually triggered a stab of loyalty for my favorite game that I could write a hub about - and I was worried I didn't have favorites of anything :D . Good choice of topic!

Claudia Porter (author) on November 01, 2012:

I appreciate the comments Brainy Bunny. They definitely need to work on their directions, but we make a few modifications if we don't understand something. My daughter gets the biggest kick out of having a job and having thousands of dollars in her hand!

Claudia Porter (author) on November 01, 2012:

Thanks Bill. I've been playing this forever. I'm glad it took you on a trip down memory lane. I also had no idea how old it was.

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on November 01, 2012:

I bought Life for my daughter two years ago, and I think we played it once before putting it back on her shelf where it has stayed. The rules had changed significantly from the version I remember from childhood, and the directions (as you noted) were confusing and unhelpful. We were thoroughly disappointed, I'm sorry to say.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 01, 2012:

Cool review! I had no idea this game was that old....Wow! How many times did you play this game growing up? I know, next to Monopoly, this was the most played game in our household.

Loved the look back; nice job and thank you!

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