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An Open Letter To Milton Bradley Regarding The Game of Life

An Open Letter To Milton Bradley Regarding The Game of Life

By Wendi Aarons

Dear Milton Bradley or Milton and Bradley or Mrs. Bradley? or Whoever You Are:

My two sons and I have been spending a lot of time playing your classic board game The Game of Life. Or as it’s more commonly known: LIFE. (Or as it’s more commonly known when I’ve been playing it with a glass of wine in my hand: LIFESH.) We all love how the game asks us to choose the college or career path, how we have to deal with financial obstacles and how we all get married and have a few kids. Well, I should say that I love that we all get married and have kids. My boys still think that’s super gross and not just because I yell, “Poopy diaper time!” whenever they have a new addition to their family.

It’s obvious that you’ve updated LIFE from the original 1860 version, and you’ve also been great about putting out new versions in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. (Not to mention the fun iPad version, too.) However, after playing quite a few games on your latest board, I’ve noticed that you’re still a bit behind the times on a few things. Therefore, here are my suggestions as to how you can make The Game of Life current for 2013:


Players can choose to be either a pink peg for a woman or a blue peg for a man, but it’s not always that simple anymore. How about adding a yellow peg for those who are still deciding on their color?


The good news is that it’s up to the player to choose a gay or straight spouse. The bad news is that the game tells you when you have to get married. And what if you just want to shack up for a few years until you decide you can no longer spend your life with some mouth-breathing loser who lets the dirty dishes stack up in the sink? Please add a “Live In Sin” option.

 College Path or Career Path

Opting for career means you can immediately start earning money as one of the following: Athlete, Entertainer, Mechanic, Hair Stylist, Police Officer or Salesperson. Fine, but why does the athlete only earn $60,000 a year? Is he really bad at free throws? And why does the entertainer only make $50,000? Is she a birthday party clown?

The college path means you have to pay $100,000 in tuition (which is actually kind of a bargain) and your career choices include Veterinarian, Doctor, Computer Designer, Teacher, Accountant or Lawyer. I’m sure those were the choices 20 years ago, but now a college degree doesn’t guarantee you any kind of job, much less a professional one.

Here are some jobs that are more current for 2013:

  • Brazilian Waxer in the back of a taco truck
  • Waitress at artisanal BBQ restaurant
  • Online poker player based off-shore
  • Owner of an shop that sells distressed birdcages and zombie masks
  • Coupon/lifestyle/homeschooler/fashion/DIY/food blogger
  • Hipster who’s currently “in between gigs”


First of all, it’s smart to not let the players buy a house right away. However, the “Rent apartment, Pay $5,000” demand seems way out of whack. I think my first apartment was only $750 a month and I paid half of that in empty Diet Coke cans. Of course, that was a really long time ago and rent, like my cholesterol level, has risen steadily ever since. But still—unless the apartment comes fully furnished and has a live-in maid, consider lowering it a bit or that dude from The Rent Is Too Damn High Party might get after you.

Once players can buy a Starter House, the choices include a Condo for $100,000 and a Ranch Style for $140,000. PLEASE TELL ME WHERE HOUSES AT THESE PRICES ARE LOCATED SO I CAN MOVE THERE ASAP. IS IT DETROIT? I’LL STILL DO IT.

After you’ve been playing LIFE for a little longer, you can finally move up to a House, which includes a Penthouse Suite for $700,000 and a Mansion for $800,000. Those prices seem a little bit more realistic, however, no mention is made of how the property will depreciate at least 50% the second you move in. “Upside Down Mortgage” might be a good addition to the board. (Maybe make that square black.)

Finally, you’re still forgetting the most common housing choices for people starting out nowadays: “Parents’ Basement.”

 Long Term Investment/Share the Wealth

Quite honestly, I don’t know if these are up-to-date or not because I’m kind of a financial idiot. Seriously, I once bought 1,000 shares in a Nevada platinum mine. A platinum mine that was located in a lake. So, carry on with your finance money wealth stuff. I’ll just be over here giving all of my savings bonds to Bernie Madoff.

Family Path

Players can opt to take this route to increase their chances of having children. However, my boys rarely take this path since they’re in grade school and totally anti-baby, but I really wish they would. Therefore, please consider changing the name from “Family Path” to “Wear Sweatpants and Watch Cartoons Path” so we can follow a long-standing tradition in America and use trickery to make someone a father. Honestly, Milton, have Jerry Springer and Maury Povich taught you nothing?


Whenever you land on a blue Lawsuit space, you automatically collect $100,000 from another player. Now, I agree that our country is very litigious, but what’s up with players constantly suing each other? We’re not all Real Housewives, my man. I mean, at least give us some reasons why we’re suing, like “Ran over foot with Razor scooter” or “Sold me poodle puppy that turned out to be endangered white Rhino.” People in 2013 like some context to our frivolous lawsuits.

Miscellaneous Fees

Every time I play LIFE, I’m appalled by some of the unrealistic charges you give to various goods and services. Some are way, way too high. Like “Donate to African Orphans, Pay $40,000.” Who do you think I am, Oprah? Or “Get plastic surgery, Pay $100,000.”  Now who do you think I am, some drug dealer who has to change my entire appearance to outrun the FBI? I think an eye job is a mere $4,000. (Not that I’ve Googled prices every day since I turned 40.) I’m also quite puzzled by “Sports camp for the kids, Pay $5,000 per child.” Because unless my kids are being flown on a Gulfstream V to Shaq’s private island where Michael Jordan and Larry Bird will spend 24 hours a day teaching them how to dribble, I’ve probably paid $4,999.000 too much for sports camp.

On the other hand, sometimes the fees you list are way, way too low. For example, “Buy Foreign Sports Car, Pay $30,000.” For that price, it’s either 10 years old or a red Kia. Also “Open Daycare, Other Players Pay You $5,000.” Completely ridiculous. Because if you run a daycare that only charges $5,000 a year, it’s probably the kind of daycare that ends up on Dateline NBC.


At the end of the game, players can choose to either retire at Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres. Now, I’m assuming “Countryside Acres” is a just nice way to say “yucky nursing home that the rich people avoid,” but neither one of them seems to be very realistic. Why not add what my parents did when they retired? “Buy RV, drive across the country, never tell children where you are”?

Or what my in-laws did when they retired? “Spend mornings at Cal-Neva Casino playing the nickel slots and drinking free whiskey”? There are also these options:

  • Get job as Wal-Mart greeter because you were cheated out of your 401K
  • Star in Viagra commercial to pay for new hips
  • Move into son’s basement and tell him “Karma’s a bitch, kid” while you turn his TV to “America’s Got Talent’


Unfortunately, the way to win is to have the most money and the most LIFE tiles for doing things like adopting a shelter animal. I say “unfortunately” because I don’t think that’s sending a good message to our youth. For example, the last time my youngest son won, he yelled, “In your face, blonde lady! I’m totally richer than you are! Now make me lunch!”

So here are a few suggestions of better ways to know who won at the game of LIFE:

  • Whoever has the least amount of people blocking them on Facebook
  • Fewest convictions for public intoxication
  • No regrettable tattoos (e.g. Howie Mandel’s face on your shoulder blade)
  • Person who comes to the end of their life with the least amount of “I wish I hads”

I hope you’ll consider making these changes, Milton Bradley. (Milton and Bradley? Mildley?) Because The Game of Life is a great game to play. Especially when you know that if you screwed up your life the first time, you can start a new improved one whenever you feel like it.

What are your suggestions for updating LIFE? Let me know!


About the Author

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons, The Mouthy Housewives or starting fistfights near the 70% off rack at Target.

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