Remember the Game of Life? It's one of the most popular board games ever. You won if you ended the game with the most money.
Here's the interesting thing you probably don't know: The game wasn't always about money. The original version was about vice, virtue, and happiness. But when it was re-released in 1960 it was about cash. When Milton Bradley (the man) first created it, he saw the game as a tool to teach children about ethics.
When Milton Bradley (the company) looked at the original game in 1960, what did they think?
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And this was true. In the ensuing years, the game was criticized for being amoral and cash-crazed — but without the money focus the game ceased to work.
It's funny that the game broke when money stopped being the point system.
It ties in with what Harvard professor Michael Norton told me about the role of money in our real lives — it's an easy way to keep score.
From my interview with Michael Norton:
What else is interesting is that the research supports Milton Bradley's thoughts about games being educational.
Why do we play? We play to learn.
The way you see a game dramatically changes your behavior
In fact, the way a game is structured has more of an effect than your personality does.
As Tal Ben-Shahar explains in his book Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create Your Own Road to Happiness, Stanford researchers assembled a group of students who had been voted most competitive by their peers and another cohort who had been voted more cooperative.
All students played the same game
But some of the players were told it was called "The Community Game." Others were told it was called "The Wall Street Game." Guess what happened?
If someone's personality had been judged competitive or cooperative before the game was a weak predictor of behavior. What really mattered?
Those who were told the game was called "The Community Game" cooperated. Those who thought it was "The Wall Street Game" did not.
We all need money
And when old people are surveyed (people who have almost completed "the game of life") they never use money as their scoring system.
Maybe it depends on the type of life you want.
Here's one metric that's for certain. You only have about 30,000 days, roughly, to play this real game of life. Will you decide whether you won or lost by money? It's something to consider. For me, personally, I think Tim O'Reilly may have said it best:
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