LIFE, is a deformation of The Game of Life that warps the rules and materials of the original game to amplify the unfairness and biases that exist both in the game and in our world.
Class: Game Design 2 - 2015
Instructor: Eric Zimmerman
Milton Bradley’s classic board game The Game of Life purports to let players “win at the game of life” by “choosing the life they want.” This means that players twist a spinner for about an hour until their van full of pink and blue pegs has made it from college to retirement. Who knows, you might even find some buried treasure along the way, just like in real life.
LIFE, on the other hand, is a deformation of The Game of Life that warps the rules and materials of the original game to amplify the unfairness and biases that exist both in the game and in our world. LIFE’s goal is to bring the subtext of The Game of Life brutally to the forefront, forcing the player to confront the culture of gender inequality that influences both the original game and our society.
The primary modification made in LIFE is the addition of gendered spaces. In the original rules, pegs are referred to only as “person” pegs and the game rules are very careful to never specify a particular gender for the pieces. However, the pegs are pink and blue, two of the most prototypically gendered colors, so the intent of the designers still comes through. When you also consider that the Baby Boy spaces use blue shoes while the Baby Girl spaces use pink, and all of the couples depicted on the game board are heterosexual pairings, the game paints a very clear picture of gender stereotypes through it’s imagery even while it attempts to sidestep those stereotypes through its words.
LIFE does not intend to be subtle. From the janky sticker aesthetic to the harsh, sarcastic tone of the tiles, LIFE is intended to contrast The Game of Life by being as blunt as possible with the topics that its predecessor attempts not to touch. The goal is not to enact change by sneakily drawing the player into the game world only to eventually reveal that we’ve been representing reality the whole time. Our goal is to force the player into a clearly constructed, broken, obnoxious system and make the parallels between the real world and the game undeniably apparent, and hopefully enact social change through a bold, persuasive statement rather than intelligent subterfuge.