The Game of Life vs. Monopoly: 6 Differences & 6 Similarities

The Game of Life vs. Monopoly
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For a very long time, there was always an argument in our family home over which game to play: Game of Life or Monopoly. Unfortunately, the choice was never easy because we had come to love both games equally. If you are faced with the same struggle, perhaps you would like to compare the differences and similarities between the two games. 

The Game of Life vs. Monopoly 

DIFFERENCESSIMILARITIES
1. Game duration.1. The player with the most money in the end wins.
2. They were invented in different time eras.2. The gameplay (focusing on a cycle of life).
3. The physical game boards.3. Players must pay their dues at the end of the game.
4. The number of players4. Both games were provided to soldiers during wars.
5. How players take turns and progress along the board.5. Many versions have been released.
6. The original licensing companies.6. Both games have had major redesigns.

While both games have similarities and differences, it must be noted that each of them is enjoyable. I remember whiling away many hours around the Monopoly Board and the Game of Life board. Some days, we would actually play both! If you would like to learn more about the differences and similarities of Game of Life and Monopoly, read on. I go into a bit more detail on each below.

The Differences between the Game of Life and Monopoly

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What sets Monopoly and the Game of Life apart? To answer that question; there are 6 fairly obvious differences between Monopoly and Game of Life, and they do not all come down to the actual gameplay. Some of the differences come down to the design, history, and so on. Let us take a look.

1. The games take different times to play.

Monopoly and the Game of Life really differ quite a bit when it comes to the amount of time it requires to play a game. Anyone who has tried to play a “quick” game of Monopoly before will know that there is no such thing. Unfortunately, while Monopoly is vastly fun, it is also a lengthy game to play. There can be no end in sight sometimes! For many people, this is the reason why they choose Game of Life over Monopoly. With Game of Life, the game takes around 1 hour to play. 

2. The games were invented in different time eras.

One of the biggest differences between Monopoly and Game of Life may be the time that each was created. You probably do not know just how old each of these games is. Game of Life and Monopoly come from completely different time eras. The very first version of Monopoly was invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1903, whereas Game of Life was created by Milton Bradley in 1860. As you can tell, there is quite a gap between them!

3. The physical game board of both games is very different.

You might already know that the Monopoly board looks nothing like the Game of Life board. 

The original Game of Life board did not look like it does today. In fact, it was much like a Checkers board. Nowadays, the Game of Life board is 3D with mountains and bridges and other features that stick out of the board. The board that follows a track that is much like a road. There are spaces numbered 1 through 10 on the board. As you can imagine, this can make storage of the game a mild challenge.

The standard Monopoly board is a flat board and by no means 3D. It consists of 40 squares that run along the outer edge of the board. 

Standard Monopoly board game
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4. The number of players for each game is different.

Of course, when you play a board game, only a certain amount of game pieces and cards are provided, which limits how many people can play the game. Monopoly is designed for 2 to 8 players, whereas the standard Game of Life is designed for 2 to 4 players. 

5. How players take turns and progress along the board is different.

In Monopoly, as with most board games, players roll dice in order to take their turn and know how many spaces to progress on the board. Game of Life is quite different in that it has a spinning wheel that must be spun in order to determine how to progress on the board. Game of Life’s creator, Milton Bradley, did not want to include dice as he felt dice were too closely related to gambling – which was against his personal morals.

6. The original licensing companies.

Most board games are owned by a company and not a single person, so which companies own Monopoly and Game of Life? 

Currently, both games are owned by Hasbro, Inc. However, Monopoly was originally licensed and distributed by Parker Brothers (after they bought it from Charles Darrow), whereas the Game of Life was initially owned, licensed, and distributed by the Milton Bradley Company. As it turns out, the Game of Life was the very game that helped Milton to launch his games company.

The Similarities between the Game of Life & Monopoly

Now that you know about the differences, let’s look at a few ways in which the games are similar. As you might have guessed, there are, in fact, a number of similarities between the Game of Life and Monopoly. And here they are:

1. The player with the most money in the end wins.

Money. Dollars banknotes. Cash money
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You might wonder if there is any difference between Game of Life and Monopoly and how a player wins. In the Game of Life and Monopoly, it is the player who has the most money at the end of the game that wins. In terms of winning, Monopoly and Game of Life are fairly the same. 

2. The gameplay (focusing on a cycle of life).

The gameplay of the two games is extremely similar. Both the Game of Life and Monopoly are focused on following the life of a player inclusive of all financial decisions along the way. Monopoly does not quite have the same personal focus on the game as Game of Life does, but they are still similar in terms of gameplay in this regard. 

3. Players must pay their dues at the end of the game.

How do players win in Monopoly or Game of Life? 

At the end of Monopoly, players must liquidate their assets and determine who has the most money. Whoever has the most monetary value is deemed the winner of the game. 

At the end of Game of Life, players must add up their accrued money and pay all of their dues to the respective players. Once this is done, the player with the most money left is deemed the winner. 

4. Both games were provided to soldiers during wars.

Something I had heard was that Monopoly and Game of Life have an interesting history in war times. 

Monopoly’s history in war is quite interesting in that during the Second World War, it was used by the British government to get maps, supplies, and money to prisoners of war. Some even used the hidden items to escape the prison camps. How did the prisoners get their hands on the games? Prisoners of war camps received packages of supplies and games; Monopoly was part of those packages.

Illustration of Three armed soldiers
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During the American Civil War, Milton Bradley’s Game of Life was bundled with other games into game packs for Civil War soldiers.

5. Many versions have been released.

You might already be aware that Game of Life doesn’t’ come in just one theme. Over the years, both Monopoly and Game of Life have become so popular that many, many versions of each have been released. There are many themes to choose from. With Game of Life, you can choose from various themes, including TripAdvisor edition, Simpson’s edition, Star Wars edition, and many more. With Monopoly, you can choose from various themes, including Game of Thrones edition, Star Wars edition, Pokemon edition, and among others.

6. Both games have had major redesigns.

The Monopoly and Game of Life board games that you can buy today look quite different from what the original versions looked like. The original Game of Life board game looked very similar to a Checkers board. 100 years after its release, in 1960, the game went through a complete overhaul resulting in the board game design that we enjoy today. Monopoly remained with its same design for many years. In 2008, Hasbro activated a major graphic redesign to the US edition of the game.

Last Word

Over the years, both Monopoly and the Game of Life have merely grown in popularity. Now, they are both games that are found in most American homes. While we might have our personal preferences, it must be noted that the similarities and differences between Monopoly and Game of Life are more refreshing than boring. If you enjoy playing both games, I strongly encourage you to continue to do so!