Sunday, April 01, 2007

Everything I know about Life I learned from Milton Bradley

Things I learned from Milton Bradley's The Game of Life:

  • Life is a journey.
  • A long journey.
  • An education is the key to a good job.
  • Nobody wants to be a journalist.
  • Decisions made early in the game will either help you or haunt you later.
  • The person you start with in your car is the person you will end with.
  • But why is it that your kids never get out of your car and start their own game?
  • Always buy stock.
  • When you bet on the wheel, you have a 90 percent chance of not winning.
  • That seldom stops anyone from trying it anyway.
  • Especially those losing the game.
  • Pay your debts. A day of reckoning is coming.

The facts of LIFE: Milton Bradley was a lithographer in Springfield, Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Bradley's business was on the decline when a friend whom he was visiting challenged Bradley to a game. It was most likely a game imported from Europe that employed a spinner to determine the number of spaces a player moved.


The experience inspired Bradley to invent, publish and sell a game of his own. Bradley designed a board game called The Checkered Game of Life. The object was to obtain a happy old age instead of financial ruin and a player's luck was decided by a numbered spinner. Players moved game pieces over sixty-four squares, which could be good, bad, or neutral according to their color.


By 1861, Bradley had sold more than 45,000 copies of his game. He formed Milton Bradley and Company in 1864 to print other games and game manuals. The Checkered Game of Life eventually was retired to the archives.


Fast forward to 1959, Milton Bradley executives asked freelance toy and game inventor, Reuben Klamer, to come up with a game for the 100th anniversary of the company. Inspired by a Checkered Game of Life game board he saw in the Milton Bradley archives, Klamer and a co-inventor developed THE GAME OF LIFE that was introduced in 1960.


Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan. The GAME OF LIFE game board and pieces © 1985 Milton Bradley and Company.

4 comments:

alicia said...

i used to love that game, lol. played it really often... hmm. i think i stopped due to a lack of time after schoolwork picked up.

James said...

Same for me. I played it in elementary school and it's interesting how many of the social norms of the 50s and 60 were built into the game (I suppose that's natural) and are still there (at least in the mid-1980s version I own and photographed this weekend). I learned the game has been updated a bit to include "Life Tiles" for good deeds like recycling and donating to worthy causes. Is anyone aware of any updates that recognize society more as it is today?

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Always liked that game as a child. Now that I am in the midst of my own real-life game I realize it is all a lot scarier than it seemed then, sitting around the dining room table snacking on pretzels and poking my brothers to hurry up and spin!

I enjoyed reading the history of the game!

Audra Marie said...

Fun shot and post. :) I enjoyed that game as a kid. :)