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The Game of Life: Learn the Rules and How To Play It

The Game of Life is just like the real thing! It’s full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and when you get right down to it, a lot of fun. But this popular family board game can be a little confusing. In this piece, we’ll be looking at everything you need to know about The Game of Life rules. 

One of the reasons many people get confused with The Game of Life rules is that it has many different versions. These aren’t like themed Monopoly sets, whose differences are mostly cosmetic. 

Some of the different versions of The Game of Life have new rules, pieces, and gameplay elements. So, let’s look at everything you need to know about The Game of Life rules. 

What is The Game of Life?

What is The Game of Life

The Game of Life is much older than many people realize. The game dates back to the 1860s. The game was created by Milton Bradley and went by the name The Checkered Game of Life.

The game had a moral message and was designed to showcase the importance of leading a good and virtuous life. However, most people are familiar with the new 1960s version of The Game of Life.

This version added many of the gameplay elements most people know today. It was created by the well-known game designer Reuben Klamer. New versions were released in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and into the new millennium.

These versions added and changed a few elements. The most recent version was released in 2017, and it added pets into the game. The Game of Life, like many board games, is now owned by Hasbro. So, that’s enough of the history lesson; let’s see how you play the game.

What You’ll Need?

If you want to give The Game of Life a try, then you’ll need a game board. There are plenty of different versions available (including themed sets), but finding the modern version of The Game of Life should be quite easy. The game below is an example of what to look out for.

Game Of Life

Once you get the game, you might be surprised by all the equipment in the box. The board itself might also look pretty confusing. To help you understand The Game of Life rules, below, we’ve outlined how everything works.

The Game Board 

Finally, let’s talk about the game board. The Game of Life board can be quite elaborate; some versions have buildings and other components you need to affix to it. But understanding what each of the squares does is what makes the game confusing. 

It might not be Shogi-level complicated, but there is still a learning curve to it. So, let’s take a look at what each colored square means. 

Gold Spaces

Most spaces on The Game of Life board are gold. Many of these spaces will have some directive you’ll need to follow. These can include things like changing your career, having a baby, paying debts, being awarded a tax rebate, or collecting Life Tokens. 

Green Spaces 

These are your payday squares. When you pass over them, you collect your salary, as noted on your career card. If you land on them directly, you receive a bonus. Some payday squares add rises to your regular payments as well. 

Orange Spaces 

Also known as Stop Spaces. Once you pass on to these squares, stop (even if you have moved left) and follow the directions of the space. Each space is different, and you don’t always have to follow them. Some examples include getting married, changing your career, or buying a new home. 

The Spinner 

Movement in The Game of Life isn’t done with dice! Instead, you use a spinner. This allows you to move from 1 – 10 spaces per turn. The spinner can be fixed to the board or moved around to make play easier. 

Character Tokens 

The pieces in The Game of Life can vary from set to set. However, in the most modern version of the game, each player will have a car token. These have 6 holes in the back of them, which fit pegs. 


When you start playing The Game of Life, you’ll have one peg in your car. This peg is you; throughout the game, you might collect other pegs. These pegs represent people, babies, and pets. These pegs can add extra income to your retirement at the end of the game. 


There are numerous different card decks in The Game of Life. Each deck of cards does something different. House cards are used when you want to buy a house. Once you own the house, you can later sell it. 

Career and College Career cards are chosen at the start of the game. Choosing a career card allows you to make more money early on. Choosing a college career card means you’ll make more money in the long term. But you can’t start earning money right away. 

Pet cards allow you to add a pet to your car. They can also reward you money or cost you money as well. You can purchase long term investment cards at the start of your turn. These cards reward you money every time you or another player spins a certain number. You can only choose one of these cards though.  


There is plenty of money involved in The Game of Life. And like in Monopoly, one player acts as the banker under official Game of Life rules. 

Life Tokens 

During the course of the game, you’ll likely pick up a few Life Tokens. These will award you extra money once you reach the end of the game. 

The Game of Life Rules and Gameplay 

Game of Life Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The aim of the game following traditional Game of Life rules is to retire! To do this, you need to journey across the board till you reach the retirement space. But to win, you need to be the player who retires with the most money. 

Once every player reaches the retirement space, you should pay back your debts and sell any properties. They’ll then be some last-minute money awarded based on certain requirements throughout the game.  

Once all this is done, the player with the most money wins! The fun thing about The Game of Life is, every player will make it to the end. There are also many strategies involved with how you can play and great risk vs. reward gameplay.  

Setting Up

The Game of Life can be played with up to 4 players. To start with, each player should spin the spinner. The player who scores the highest number goes first; play then continues in a clockwise motion. 

Then decide whether you want to start a college career or a stable career. Both have their risks and rewards. If you start a college career, you’ll have to wait till you reach the job market square before you can choose a career. 

At certain points in the game, you may be able to change your career as well. Spin the spinner again to take your turn. Follow the arrows on the board to move around. The board will split into numerous different paths. So, most players will take different journeys across the board. 

Playing The Game 

There is no one way to describe all the things that could happen when playing The Game of Life! It’s very much like life itself in that regard. Each player should journey across the board and follow the directions of the squares they land on. 

You could end up raising a family, becoming a property tycoon, or lose all your money to debt! If you want to improve your chances of winning, think carefully before making any decision. Sometimes you’ll have the option to do nothing, which can sometimes be the best direction to take. 


Once you retire, you’ll have to choose whether you want to go to the Millionaire Estate/ Manors or Countryside Acres. Going to the Millionaire Estate will reward you with an extra Life Tile. But it also means other players could take your Life Tiles if the pile is empty. 

Retiring to the Millionaire Estate can therefore be quite risky, especially if you retire very early. Going to Countryside Acres doesn’t grant any bonus, but it does keep your Life Tiles safe. Once every player has retired, there are a few last-minute things to do. 

The first is to award each player a retirement bonus. This is 400,000 for the first player and 100,000 less for each proceeding player. Players should then pay back all their loans/ debts and sell any property. 

Extra rewards are given depending on the number of people in your car as well. You get 100K for every pet you have and 50K for every baby. Once everything is added up, each player should declare their total. The player with the most money wins! 

The Game of Life – No Two Games Are Ever The Same! 

So, that’s everything you need to know about The Game of Life rules! This is a fun and creative game, with plenty of room for strategic play. It’s a great family game, and while it can seem a little intimidating, after a game or two, you’ll know everything you need to know.   

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