Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Influence - Go to Fat Office

As those of you who know me know, I've becoming increasingly interested in board games and card games. Both in playing them, but also in the rule systems that drive them and the aesthetics that make them appealing. I'm sure the whole thing is linked back to my Junior High School days of playing elaborate Roll-Playing Games, but regardless, I've been enjoying pretending I'm an amateur game designer and spending countless hours drawing ninjas and evil clowns for the board games I'm working on.

With that in mind, my lovely wife pointed out an article in a recent New Yorker (actually, it could have been an old New Yorker, since she's catching up on the ones she missed while we traveled) talking about the History of The Game of Life. Or, as it was originally known, The Checkered Game of Life.

The original Checkered Game of Life was invented in 1860, by Milton Bradley. Milton had previously tried to sell lithographs of Abe Lincoln, that were quite popular... untill the then-President grew a beard.

Luckily for Milton, the Checkered Game of Life proved to be quite popular and sold 45,000 copies in the first year alone. Like many other games of its time, it contained a stong moral message and used a top-like device called a Teetotum instead of dice. Because dice were for sinful gamblers, obviously.

Honestly, while I've been hankering play the modern day version of Life, I'm even more curious in the original version. It's old-world moralizing and lithrographic images actually has a lot more appeal to me than driving around a happy family of pink and blue pegs. And, it links into my general interest in all things dating from that time period.

Plus, while the rules seem easy, the board seem set up for elaborate and interesting game play. And what are the rules? Simple!

(Use the board above for reference, though you can find a modern, clip-art one here.)

The Rules to the Checkered Game of Life
1. All players start on Infancy.
2. If one player lands on another, the other is sent to Jail.
3. If you land on a "hand" you must follow the directions.
4. If you land on Suicide, you are out of the game.
5. When you land on a numbered space, you gain those points.
6. The goal is achieve 100 points.

Moving (Use a dice, since Teetotums are a little harder to find.)
1: One square up or down
2: One square right or left
3. One square diagonally
4. One or two squares up or down
5. One or two squares right or left
6. One or two squares diagonally

Now, with those rules in hand, you can help me in my new quest to bring The Checkered Game of Life back! I'm hoping to either print out an existing board, or make my own, and then force my friends to play with me. Lucky them!

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