StraighterLine Wants a New Version of the Game of Life

Barry Lenson

StraighterLine Wants a New Version of the Game of Life

Have you ever sat down with a group of friends to play the classic board game, The Game of Life? Hasbro makes it, and it is a staple of American life.

The game embodies a lot of social expectations. Every player starts out with a car. (That didn’t happen where I grew up.) But the message is that in America, we all get a car. Every player is also expected to get married, have children and receive a cash bonus for every one of them. (Where was the kid bonus when I needed it? And what if you don’t want to get married?)

But here’s the interesting part. At the start of the game, every player has a choice to make – to attend college or start working right away. (It’s right there on the board – you either take the road to college or the road to business.) In The Game of Life, those are your choices. If you want to go into the Army, you have to buy a different game.

According to the Wikipedia entry about The Game of Life, the choice between college and business was introduced in a version that was published in 1960. And the choice between work and college was introduced in an interesting way. If you opted for work, your route was shorter and you received $5,000 every time you landed on a payday square. If you chose college, the route was longer, but you earned from $6,000 to $20,000 with every payday landing.

Then, an interesting dose of reality was introduced in 1992, when players who chose college incurred $40,000 in debt that they later had to repay. Salary levels were increased, however. (Apparently there is inflation, even in psychedelic Board Game Land.) But thanks to their higher salaries, most college graduates were able to repay their loans and motor on to success and wealth.

In those later versions, the Chrysler convertible that you got to drive was replaced with a Chrysler mini-van. (I was driving a mini-van in the 1990’s too. How did Hasbro know?) I predict that in the 2015 version, I’ll get a Nissan Leaf.

In light of the above observations, we’re asking Hasbro to create a new version of The Game of Life. One with three pathways to choose from at the start of the game:

  • Path One – Business.
  • Path Two – College, only you emerge with $150,000 in debt.
  • Path Three – StraighterLine, which lets you emerge from college with little or no debt. And another thing – you could start taking college courses anytime, not just at the start of your life.

So please think about it, Hasbro. If you can produce those special versions of Monopoly for Atlantic City, for Sponge Bob Square Pants and for Florida State University, can’t you publish a StraighterLine Game of Life special edition for us?

The shape of American education is changing, so maybe it’s time for The Game of Life to change too. And another thing – can we play it online?

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