The original Game of Life was incredibly dark

January 14, 2020 | Articles, Blog | 100 Comments

The original Game of Life was incredibly dark

Ah, the Game of Life. It’s about as offensive as a bowl of Jello. But the original one from a hundred years
earlier? It had squares like…this. The first Game of Life wasn’t just a game. It was a form of moral instruction. And it says something about how society thinks
life should be lived then and now. In a way, the Game of Life started when this
chin disappeared. Milton Bradley was a young lithographer — basically
a printer — in Massachusetts when he made a thousand prints of this man running
for president in 1860. When Abraham Lincoln grew a beard, those prints
were worthless. So Bradley had to pivot. He took his printing skills and let them loose
on a young medium: board games. The Checkered Game of Life was his first game
— and it became a hit. Players started at infancy. They spun a teetotum — this thing — to
determine options for their move. You had control to choose your
move once you spun. The goal was to hit 100 points, through 5-point milestones like college, and Congress, or big ones, like 50 points for Old Age. The game’s patent shows that Milton
Bradley’s Life was more than just a social game. It was about great moral principles. Elizabeth Peabody founded the first English
kindergarten in the United States in 1860. Milton Bradley published this portrait of
her well after his Lincoln failure. He also volunteered to teach his own daughter’s
kindergarten class in Springfield, Massachusetts, after the success of Life. And he used his business, Milton Bradley and
Company, to publish games and educational tools, including more than 40 books about
the new Kindergarten curriculum. They made a wide variety of learning tools,
from educational puzzles to influential color wheels. Education became Bradley’s passion, and
the original Game of Life predicted that — it was a way to teach “the checkered journey
of life” to children — and adults. That weird spinner, the teetotum? That was originally to avoid cards and dice,
because they were associated with gambling. The location of each spot also taught a lesson. Old age was surrounded by many difficulties. “Poverty lies near the cradle,” but passing
through it didn’t hurt you in the beginning of the game. Setbacks didn’t earn you points, but most
didn’t kick you out of the game, either. Honesty led to happiness. Industry, to wealth. And perseverance led to success. “I made 50,000 in the stock market today.” “That’s Life”
In 1960, long after Milton Bradley died, the company — which by then was mostly making
games — dug Life from the archives, choosing it over a long list of other games the company
had once published. They adapted it to 1960s America with a candy-colored
spinner and stacks of cash and cars that could load up a full family of baby boomers to places
like Millionaire Acres. “I went to the Poor Farm.” “I’m on Millionaire Acres!” It centered around paydays, where the value
of winning a Nobel was the cash prize that came with it. The winner is the person with the most money. Today’s versions are almost identical, with
tweaks for jobs and hot brand integrations. “That’s life.” There was no more disgrace but there also
wasn’t bravery, or honor, or truth. Both versions are the Game of Life. Which one should we play? So when game night is over, you want your
home to be safe – and that’s where Simplisafe comes in. They are the sponsor of this video. Simplisafe’s effective, reliable home security
that’ll make sure your home is safe. It’s easy to use. Easier than this thing, for sure. Do you know how many times I had to spin this
thing for this video? So what makes Simplisafe protect like a Pro? They’ve got 24/7 professional monitoring,
and police dispatch that’s 3.5 times faster. So if there’s a break-in – hopefully there’s
not a break-in, but if there is a break-in, the police will be called and they’ll get there really
quick. And they’re modern comprehensive. That means they’ve got interior
and exterior sensors to help keep track of things. Experts like that, 3 million people like that
– a lot of people like that. This is not part of the ad. This is for sustenance. So all of this is about 50 cents a day with
no contracts. There’s hardware too. They’ve got the Simplisafe Lock, which always
makes sure that your door’s locked. Simple as that – a lot of break-ins happen
just because the door is unlocked. I know I’ve done that — I’ve run ten
minutes back to my house just to lock the door. Simplisafe takes care of that. It also keeps track of people and lets you
grant remote access. So protect all those beloved peg people in
your life! Head over to
One more time, that’s Simplisafe doesn’t directly impact our editorial
but their support makes videos like this possible.

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  1. danekarl

    Life is about meaning –> Life is about money. Great.

  2. anime sub and dub

    I love song

  3. Marina Melinda Rivera

    I think I like the original better

  4. aman sinha

    You should mention that half the video is a commercial.

  5. Gamer What

    We should play real life

  6. CruxCapacitor

    "Which one should we play?" There are thousands of better board games out there, so… something else is my choice.

  7. Styil

    I read that as dank

  8. masterofpureawesome

    "which one should we play?" Whatever one is more fun tbh

  9. Yves Zavaleta

    So in the original you had choices like in an actual game?

  10. Victor

    dark? More like filling or real.

  11. Max Hill

    very interesting, thx

  12. Dinesh Kumar

    Waiting for vox on Iran and American conflict

  13. Robert Jung

    3:43 Oh how Donald J. must have loved to play this game, thinking he could win a Nobel prize. What a schmuck that fool is.

  14. Mykasan

    this seems like a great game. :O

  15. Otilia Lampman

    I want the original game

  16. Niko L

    I honestly thought this was going to be about Conway's Game of Life

  17. Jacob Surprise

    They’re both boring games

  18. Humberto Camacho

    Its incredibly accurate

  19. Yeah Buddy

    "Which one should we play?"

    Me: …. niether!?

  20. Vasectomy Fail

    as a child i loathed playing LIFE because it forced you into institutions by chance, "oh no, i got a 3 and now i'm married". the old one looks way more fun

  21. Jasmine GeminiDragon

    I want the original game of life…

  22. DigiMatt52

    This is also the time we started to confuse economic value with human value.

    Time to reverse that. And we do so with Andrew Yang. Money is just a tool, and it's time to use it for us. Instead of being the tool for money.

  23. Flexi

    Can Someone explain how you play the old game please?

  24. Freshpinoy Boii

    I wish you guys would have dove a little more into what was on the 1860’s board and what a game would be like

  25. Angel Hernandez

    Is this a re-upload?

  26. bloodcorer

    Would like to see Soviet version

  27. Joshua Chacko

    I feel like I watched this video last year

  28. Josiah McCarthy

    What is that symphonic piece of music in the opening and throughout?

  29. Deyoncé W

    1860: Morality
    1960: Capitalism

  30. Dylan Schmidt

    Life? Don't talk to me about life.

  31. Maks Mir

    All we care about is money… This world deserves a better class of most evolved species.

    We NEED the original game of life!

  32. Zayd Mahdi

    I wanna play the original version

  33. TyPreeGaming TPG

    Shane! Great job on the video!

  34. hazbaska1

    Yeah, 1860 had their ish together — I know what I’m going with!

  35. Jimmy Killem

    America's Game of Life is not an original, that would be the English New Game of Human Life which was developed in 1790 and is on display in the British Museum in London

  36. Elee Contreras

    But I still have a chin like that….

  37. Kevin Booth

    The original sounds way more fun tbh

  38. John Harley

    If you want to play a rustic game of Life with the game design trimmings of a modern design, look for Agricola

  39. Megan Stewart

    At first I read the title as “The original Gamer Life was incredibly dark” lol

  40. Grijsman ya

    Can you get these old fashioned games

  41. Gandhiji

    Great ducking video

  42. Null

    "…which one should we play?"

    I laughed out loud at this for over thirty seconds. Do we need this kind of overly-dramatic end-note for a conclusion, or can you just let the evidence you present in the video speak for itself without a pithy ender?

  43. Brian Fong

    This is the first time I saw a sponsor for VOX.
    Did they fail to find one before or do they need money badly?

  44. Apple Tree

    Huh. Interesting video. Too bad we don’t worry about and be more honest today about how life choices and responsibility for those choices factor into our lives just as the the things that we cannot choose such as illness or the family that you are born into.

  45. Emir Ali Karahan

    How is this incredibly dark?

  46. Nadine Westerveld

    I don't know… there's something dark about a life that's only measured in wealth and financial success.

  47. Shaun Hinds

    VOX, this appears to be a reproduction. Where can we find it for ourselves without paying a “life’s” wages on an original!

  48. myhv

    Oh, it was originally a teaching aid? Explains why it's about as interesting as monopoly.

  49. gyubokbaik

    1/4th of the video is ad.

  50. Bring Me More Booze

    More like The Game of Lie

  51. MoutainCity

    Disgrace and truth!!!!!

  52. Sarah Lovelace

    I’d say to stay true to the original as honesty is the best policy

  53. Achintya Mitra


  54. Ducky the Great

    So, then what is the story between the origins of Jello?

  55. bernard832

    Where are the gliders?

  56. John Bradley Evans

    Interesting. I assumed Milton Bradley was a partnership, not a guy.

  57. pancake man

    Very thought provoking .Terrific video as usual.

  58. michael faith

    Wow, this is super interesting.

  59. David Learmonth

    I so want to play this game and the original Monopoly.

  60. Aimee Shaw

    My prized possession is a second 1866 edition in a uv reflective glass frame. When I look at it sometimes the tough days get easier when I realize all our troubles can be compartmentalized into common categories experienced by every human alive.

  61. Team Punk

    “Baby boomers”

  62. Huddy o2

    Wasn’t this a old video

  63. FlyToTheRain

    Psh no honor? Prince Zuko would play OG Life only

  64. GamerbyDesign

    Gotta get me that original game.

  65. D G

    Bored games bore me to tears…


    Wow. For me, I preferably play the classic – simple first version game of life.

  67. Jayzee Jayzee

    I only like Game Of Life because of the money

  68. Lazarus Live

    I would love to own one. Very cool

  69. pyro maniac

    They need to bring the OG back

  70. pyro maniac

    So theres no game of thrones version???

  71. Jonny Rodriguez


  72. John Hagen

    I loved this growing up. As a disabled adult in extreme poverty, I can't help but be incredibly depressed by it.

  73. Val Von

    I like the original over the one we have now where the focus is on money. I think the moral lesson is far more important than making money.

  74. esther williams

    I would love to play the original.

  75. Michael Taylor

    SimpliSafe can be hacked with a $1 RF remote. It's the opposite of safe.

  76. Aaron Atkins Comedy

    gee i sure miss the 1860s

  77. Wak Dolah

    Every time i made mistake,
    "That's life!".

  78. OligarchySlayer

    That’s life… that’s what they say.

  79. Cormac Linehan

    IMO the current version's way darker. However brutally honest the original was about life's pitfalls, it still taught you ways to actually be happy. The current versions teach children to covet material wealths that will never bring them happiness. It's a complete betrayal of the game's original creator, lol.

  80. Bling Boss

    The original game of life seemed to to show that life is not a game but a learning experience.

    Pls bring it back.

  81. Baran Zadeoğlu

    anyone else came here expecting conway's game of life?

  82. Mellow Yellow

    This was there ps4

  83. I Steal Jewels

    Didn’t you already make a video about this?

  84. Hermann Böse

    "Which one should we play?" None of them. Roll/Spin and move is a bad mechanic. People should play good boards games and teach their kids good boards games with intresting and engaging mechanics. And you should not get your life morales from a board game.

  85. heliosxdaisy

    "baby boomers" 😏

  86. Anonymous

    3:31 that cracked me up. Ok boomer.

  87. Amazing Person

    Going back to 1860 to play the original game who's with me

  88. Peter Kelley

    Play "The Pursuit Of Happiness" instead. It's a better game

  89. Amazing Person

    We should bring back the Checkered Game of Life

  90. Dlaftx

    Where can we get the old version?

  91. Mr. GoldenGlasses

    Now game of life is entirely random and the winner is whoever has the most money. Huh

  92. BIRD

    I hate how life used to be lived based on moral principles and now it is lived based on where the money is.

  93. dreamcatcherMAS

    I couldn't download from play store though after purchase

  94. John CO.

    I always end up stealing as much cash as possible in the game of Life.
    Is that a problem?

  95. Nicole and Sam Baker

    Hey I live in Springfield

  96. Preoximerias

    The 1860s version is the one we need to be playing but the 1960s version is what we should be playing.

  97. psychiatry is eugenics


  98. Jaime Chan

    Like si conoces el partido político VOX



  100. Kingdomgirl 3333

    So I'm guessing after the great depression bravery, honor, and truth were probably less appealing than survival which required some kind of monetary resources. It's the "Greatest Generation" that came up with the 1960s version of the game thus teaching the Boomer generation that all that matters is making sure you have capital and that the person with the most wins. I think this helps explains the full development of venture capitalism and the attitude that all that matters is money and not the quality of life of a people as a whole. I believe the love of money is truly the root of all evil….thus the 1960s version of LIFE is pretty much evil (Also Monopoly).

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