Today I Discovered Why The Original Game Of Life Had A 'Suicide' Ending

Image: Public Domain

Usually these days we see cheery or campy old franchises getting a gritty, modernised reboot - but have you ever heard of the opposite happening? The version of the Game of Life we know today is a cute little board game where you collect children, accomplishments and wealth indiscriminately in order to become the winner. Of Life. The original, however, was far more depressing and probably more accurate to real life - as well as finding success, you could also end up in ruin, poverty or even suicide.

All the way back in 1860, a man called Milton Bradley (recognise that name?) invented a game called the Checkered Game of Life. As the name would suggest, the game was based off a modified checkers board, with life milestones populating all the black squares.

Image: Public Domain

Like the modern Game of Life, you can land on positive squares and negative squares, gaining and losing points. Everyone starts at Infancy in the bottom left square, with the aim being to reach 'Happy Old Age' in the top right, collecting points from good squares along the way.

Thus far, aside from the more simplistic form, it's pretty similar to the modern Game Of Life. You can land on negative squares in this one too - taxes, disasters effecting your property and wealth, burglars, jury duty. The consequences of a bad roll in the Checkered Game Of Life, however, are far more dire.

Across the board are spread a number of unpleasant situations - from poor traits like Intemperance and Idleness, to poor pursuits like Crime and Gambling. The worst of the squares on the Checkered Game Of Life include bad ends like Ruin, Disgrace, Poverty and even Suicide.

See, 'Checkered' didn't just refer to the board: "The game represents, as indicated by the name, the checkered journey of life," the rules of the original game state.

And whether you end up in Happy Old Age or Death? Well, it all comes down to luck in the end. Wow, 1860 was a real depressing time.


If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support or someone to talk to, contact the Lifeline Australia hotline at 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300 65 94 67 or the Kids Helpline (for ages 5-25) at 1800 55 1800.


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