Games: The Game of Life Adventures

If you’re looking for a fast-paced game, this isn’t it. It doesn’t have to take a long time, but there’s no point in trying to finish as quickly as possible.

While I do enjoy some games that require speed (such as Word Bubbles at lumosity.com), for the most part I prefer to take my time and think things over. I think Al is a lot like me in that way – one of the fastest ways to get him frustrated is to give him a time to complete something. When I see games where speed is crucial (many if not most of them, it seems), I know it’s not a good choice for us.

When we play the Game of Life, either the original board game or the newer Extreme Reality version, Al always wants to add some storytelling to the game. We always have to make up names for the people we marry and our children, and keep each other informed on what our children are like and what they’re doing. We describe vacations, accidents, and other events as the game proceeds.

That made the Game of Life Adventures card game a perfect fit for us, because it encourages storytelling. It’s even in the rules, that you have to tell a story with each card you play. Now, the story can be a single line of explanation, but I like to expand on it more, and Al embellishes even further. I don’t know if we make our life stories as exciting as we can, as Hasbro urges us its product description of the game, but we do exercise our imaginations.

One definite advantage to this game over the board game, from my point of view, is that it’s a card game and requires less space to play. I can easily stick the pack of cards in a bag to take with us when we travel, and we can pull it out and play when we have some time to fill. It requires more space than, say, Go Fish or UNO, and a table to spread all the cards out would be ideal, but you can make do with a fairly small playing area.

There are four colored decks to pick cards from – Family, Wealth, Adventure, and Career. So you have a certain amount of control over the kind of cards you get. If you don’t want a big family, don’t take family cards. The way to win is to collect lots of points, so Wealth and Adventure cards seem to serve that purpose best. But no matter what color cards you pick, you can still end up with a handful of cards that are hard to play because they depend on getting other cards.

The board game puts things in order for you: you have to get a career before you marry, and a house before you can get to the rest of the board. With the card game, the first card you draw might be your diamond wedding anniversary. You don’t have to wait sixty years before you play it (the standard game last sixty years, as determined by players picking a total of six +10 cards from any of the decks), but you do have to be married first.

I got a degree first in the game we just played, which seemed appropriate. But then I drew at least four Payday cards before I ever got a career, which meant discarding some without playing them so I could draw other cards. Likewise, I eventually discarded a card that required having a car in order to take a road trip, since I had a boat and an airplane but couldn’t seem to come up with a car.

As a social conservative, I do appreciate the fact that the cards that add children to the family all require being married first, and that only one marriage card is allowed in one’s life story (there are no divorce cards). I’m not so sure I like the lawsuits, though I did manage to come up with an interesting story about how Al deserved to lose his airplane because of the reckless way he flew it too close to my yacht (I then ended up with the airplane).

It’s certainly not all realistic – why exactly would you need a passport to take a trip to the Moon? And none of the Wealth cards require having any kind of career first. True, there are some people who inherit their wealth, but there are very few of those who don’t have some kind of work to try to maintain and grow their inheritance. And how in the world would a pet mixup at the vet end up in my bringing a shark home instead of my baby polar bear?

But it’s not primarily a game to educate young people on the ways of adult life, any more than the board game is. (Parents can use it – and I try to, to a limited extent – to generate conversation about the importance of certain life-changing decisions.) It’s about imagining possibilities, and – with the card game especially – spinning some interesting yarns to describe them.

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