The Game of Life: 15 Disadvantages and Drawbacks of LIFE!

Game of Life Box set out on the table
Kingma photos / Shutterstock.com

Who would have thought that the ever-popular Game of Life could actually come with disadvantages and drawbacks attached? The simple reality is that it can, and it does. I was recently told that any game comes with a list of pros and cons attached to it. There’s no such thing as a game that’s purely positive – or at least, that was the sentiment.

I had not really given it much thought before, but I decided to delve into Game of Life to see what drawbacks and disadvantages are experienced by those who play it… 

Imagine my surprise to learn that there were quite so many drawbacks to playing Game of Life. However, It is important to note that while these drawbacks are possible, they are not set in stone. There is nothing to conclusively say that a child who plays Game of Life will have any of the following misconceptions when they reach adulthood.

Of course, like all games, a bit of parental guidance and open chats about the game and its meaning, can go a long way towards ensuring that children derive the positive benefits of the game, instead of the negative.

Anyhow, are you ready to take a look at the disadvantages of the Game of Life? Let’s jump right in!

These are 15 disadvantages and drawbacks of the Game of Life:

1. The directions can be confusing and are not well laid out.

Game of Life can be confusing, especially if you don’t know the rules by heart. The instructions and rules of the game are not straightforward and easy to grasp, either. In fact, if you lose the rules from your game set, you will probably struggle to understand where to put all the tiles, how to move your car (which is the game token) around, and how to make use of the cards.

2. It is not easy to store due to the 3-D game board.

The Game of Life board game
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Storage of your board game might be a bit challenging. Most board games are slim and easy to pack away. The game board for Game of Life is bulky and 3-D, which means that it might be somewhat challenging to close and store into a small space.

3. It may cement the idea in kid’s minds that only a college degree leads to a decent income.

The game focuses on rewarding players that choose to go to college when playing the game. This could make small children believe that it is a requirement of success to go to college and it may deter opportunistic or entrepreneurial thinking. Of course, some parental guidance and reinforcement here can really help to deter that kind of thinking.

4. It puts an unrealistic spin on the correlation between investing and gambling.

Investing in real life is often very rewarding, if a person does it right. In the Game of Life, the game allows players to invest in stock. The stock that you buy has a number on it, and if a player spins that number, money can be collected from the bank. This type of activity may lead young players to think there is a positive correlation between investing and gambling. 

Game of Life Money out on the table and set-up materials
Kingma photos / Shutterstock.com

5. The game pieces are small and, therefore, easy to lose.

This is a problem that all board games come with. You lose a piece, and it could set your future games back; unless you are innovative and come up with a way to make up for the missing pieces. 

6. The game can teach children to place too much value on materialism.

For the most part, the game is about getting ahead financially, which might make smaller children believe that unless they are rich at the end of their lives, they have not been successful. 

7. There’re too many varieties to choose from.

You can buy the Game of Life in just about every possible theme, from the original version to SpongeBob Square Pants versions. The choices might seem like a great thing until you are faced with the stress of actually having to choose one.

8. Only 2 to 6 players can play.

If you have a larger family, some people might feel left out when they are unable to play. You also cannot derive any value out of trying to play the game alone.

9. The game might cause fights with siblings and friends.

All board games have the ability to cause a sibling fight or even fights amongst friends. Unfortunately, there is always a player who simply cannot handle setbacks or lagging behind other players.

10. The original game had the option of “suicide”.

Yup, the original version had the option for players to land on the suicide block. Not very positive, is it? As you can imagine, with suicides having increased exponentially over the years, this is not a particularly appropriate inclusion to have on a board game. Why was it there?

Cartoon man - suicide prevention
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Well, the board game was really based on the ups and downs of the inventor’s life. And he felt that suicide was a possible part of life, and it was therefore included. Modern versions do not include this anymore.

11. You can’t play it alone.

Unfortunately, the Game of Life cannot be played alone. If you are bored and alone, you are going to have to look for something else to play.

12. The game provides a misconception of real life.

The way life unfolds in the Game of Life is a bit unrealistic. If you are playing the game with impressionable and young players, chances are that they might develop a skewed idea of what adulthood and responsibilities are all about. 

13. There is the underlying message that you are “stuck for life” with the decision you make in the very beginning. 

If you make a poor decision early on in the game, you will probably be faced with some tough challenges throughout the game. This can lead people to think that real life is similar and that it is just too difficult to turn things around once a poor choice has been made.

14. The game overemphasizes the importance of work, work, work.

To get ahead in the Game of Life, players have to do quite a bit, and they have to do it right. With the number of possible downfalls available, players have to spend a vast amount of time focusing on work. This could lead young children to believe that more time should be sacrificed to work and less time to family in real life, if they want to get ahead.

15. It tells kids that they must choose a career, get married, buy a house, sell a house, and buy another house. 

Life cycle of man. From birth to death
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Real-life has no official blueprint, yet the Game of Life seems to have one. In order for players to get ahead, they are expected to choose a career, then get married and have a family, then buy a house and sell it to buy another one in the future. These seem to be expected norms.

There’s a risk that small children could believe that their lives need to follow a blueprint in order to be “normal”. In reality, lives don’t always work out that way. Some people never get married or buy houses, and yet they are extremely happy and even highly successful. 

Last Word

As an avid board game player, I must admit that the drawbacks and disadvantages associated with Game of Life don’t really put me off. If you feel that your child may pick up negative perceptions on real life and the responsibilities of adulthood, you could spend some time playing the game with him/her and openly communicating and discussing the potential misconceptions. If anything, it will ensure that your child grows up with a well-rounded opinion and understanding of life.