Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The (Real) Game Of Life

Sarah received The Game Of Life for her birthday.

It's a strangely compelling board game, which simulates a traditional western, middle class path through life from young adulthood to retirement.

It's very white bread, mainstream.  And kind of fun, because it's so loosely based in reality.  Although I'm sure the kids think it's pretty accurate.  They'll learn, bless 'em.

You drive around the board in little coloured cars and you put teensy pink or blue people in the car with you, first your wife/husband, then your kids. It's completely up to the spin of the dial as to how many kids you have, but the more you have the more you pay out which is pretty accurate, except at retirement when they all give you a gift of 10 grand...yeah right.

Along the way you are forced to stop in order to properly achieve life's usual milestones and at the end, you retire, add up your wads of cash and the richest person wins.

And that's where the similarity to real life ends.  My comprehensive analysis is below.

Choose Career

Game Of Life: If you choose college, you have to take out a $100,000 bank loan.  You get to choose from such careers as vet, lawyer, accountant, with salaries starting at at least $50,000 with plenty of upside potential with pay rises dotted throughout the board.  Or you choose a career such as salesperson, entertainer or policeman.  You don't earn as much long term, but there's no nasty debt to repay and you start earning from the beginning of the game.

Real Life : Fuck around choosing a course, take a gap year, start a double degree, realise a double degree is too much, drop out of one, go to the pub instead of lectures (or is that just me?), graduate with even less idea of what you want to do with your life than when you started.

Get Engaged

Game Of Life:  That's it.  So simple really.                                  

Real Life:  Shack up with a series of unsuitable partners before (if you're lucky) finding someone willing to marry you, whom you are in turn, willing to marry.  Be proposed to in one outrageous, flamboyant act of madness by your boyfriend, who takes you in a helicopter to fly over enormous letters he's written in the sand or drags you to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro to propose at sunrise, while you're freezing your tits off, possibly being the one and only romantic gesture of his whole life.

Get Married

Game of Life:  You can pick a new little pink or blue figure to put in your little coloured car.

Real Life: Turn into Bridezilla, fight with your mother about everything but mostly about how many of her friends she wants to invite, agonise over napkin colours and what the vegetarian meal choice should be, fall out with one bridesmaid because she refuses to wear salmon pink.

Buy Starter Home

Game Of Life:  Choose from a series of stylish homes including a cape cod, townhouse, victorian and in a tasteful touch, a mobile home.

Real Life: Live with parents as long as possible, save up, scrimp, blow savings on tropical holiday, save, economise, blow money on new car, borrow money off parents (promising you'll move out and leave them alone), finally manage to buy first home in crap street of slightly less crap suburb.

Have Babies

Game of Life: Throughout the game, you can land on spaces telling you've had a boy, girl or even twins.  There are no pregnancy, morning sickness or IVF squares.

Real Life:  Is too real.  Is too emotional.  There's almost never enough sleep.  Is not a game.

Lose Job

Game of Life: Pick another career card, and start collecting your new salary straightaway.  Easy!

Real Life: Survive several rounds of GFC based redundancies before finally accepting a package, have six month sabbatical, realise it's actually harder work being home with the kids.  Go back to work because the house needs renovating, at lower salary than before in less satisfying role.  Wait in vain for economy to pick up.

Buy Second Home

Game of Life: Time to select from a mansion, executive cape, luxury mountain retreat, or penthouse suite.  Or, if you don't like to be tied down, an even flasher RV.

Real Life: Go into stupid amounts of debt to buy a house to fit your family, in a suburb you can't really afford, to be close to the school you want.  Undertake renovations that seem simple at first, but end up being a long, drawn out, expensive nightmare.


Game of Life: Select from the charmingly named Millionaires Estate or slightly less salubrious, Countryside Acres.  Flog all your stuff, collect money from your kids (Hah!), sit back and enjoy...

Real Life:  Continue to assist your children with mortgages, school fees and trust funds.  Attempt to move to a smaller home but struggle when all the grandchildren come to visit because there isn't enough space.  Feel guilty whenever you go away on holiday because you're not helping with the grandkids.  Try as hard as possible not to outlive your retirement savings.
Are we having fun yet?