Milton Bradley, a lithographer and printer who was born in 1836 in Vienna, Maine, got into board games when Abraham Lincoln grew the beard that made Bradley's prints obsolete. Bradley choose an ancient and proven game format: the spiral or point-to-point journey. His first game, Checkered Game of Life, was a Civil War era blockbuster that gave players the chance to spin and decide their way to a finish called 'Happy Old Age.'
Now owned by Hasbro, the upcoming 2007 version of the Life game has no goals or big decisions whatsoever. Players wander multiple paths that snake through four basic squares: Learn It, Live It, Love It, and Earn It. There is no cash or bankruptcy, only Visa credit cards. There are several places to start, few decisions to make, no real finish, and no ticking clock.
Like its newest game players, I can only imagine where Hasbro's next Game of Life may lead.
I have mapped out a brief history of the game and its goals. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)
Jill Lepore wrote a great story on Bradley in the May 21st New Yorker Magazine, abstract. (The full version is not yet available on the web. Email me if you want a hard copy; I will send you one.). MindManager is a powerful decision mapping software tool I use often. It is made by MindJet.