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How To Play The Game Of Life (5 Minute Guide)

How To Play The Game Of Life (5 Minute Guide)


The Game of LIFE was modernized in 1960 from a 19th century checkered parlor game originally released by Milton Bradley.  The game is a linear timeline of the milestones that someone will experience from the time they enter adulthood through retirement.  The player is forced to make career choices, and face life events such as marriage, home ownership, and the benefits and setbacks that can accompany these experiences.  The choices that are made as a player maneuvers through the game will ultimately impact their net worth as they reach for the games ultimate goal, retirement. 

If you don’t own The Game Of Life already, check it out here on Amazon.


The goal of the game is to accumulate the most money and LIFE Tiles by the time the game piece reaches the Retire Space.



  1. Play Area:  Set up the play area by attaching the game parts to the gameboard (the letter on the bottom of each game part corresponds to the letter on the board).
  2. Life Tiles:  Take four of the Life Tiles and place next to Millionaire Estates on the board with the information face down. 
  3. Cards:  All cards need to be separated into their respective decks:  Career Card, Salary Card, House Deed and Stock.  Consolidate each deck with the information facedown and place near the gameboard.
  4. Banker Bin:  The banker bin will be prearranged to include the Money organized by value, the People Pegs, the Life Tiles, and the Insurance and Loan documents. 

Beginning the Game:

  1. Each player begins with $10,000. 
  2. Players choose a car as a game piece and will place one People Peg in the car. 
  3. The car is placed at the start of either the College Path or Career Path.
  4. Career Path and College Path:
  5. If the Career Path is chosen, the player will take 1 Career Card deck and 1 Salary Card at random (an opposing player will fan out the cards with the information face down).  If the Career Card states that a degree is required, the card will be shuffled back into the pile and that player will have to draw again.  Place both cards face up alongside the game board. 
  6. If the College Pathis chosen, the player will borrow $40,000 (every $20,000 loan requires a payment of $5,000 interest when paid back) in Bank Loans from the bank.  The player can now begin the game by turning the spinner on their turn.  Once College Path players reach the Red Space titled “Job Search” they must stop their game piece.  At this time, the player will choose 3 Career Cards and 3 Salary Cards(an opposing player will fan out the cards with the information face down).  The player will choose 1 card from each deck and will return the 2 discarded cards back to their respective decks.  Place both face up along the side of the game board.  The player will immediately spin and move their game piece one more time before ending the turn.

Turn Flow:  

  1. The first turn goes to the player with the highest spin. 
  2. Each player will spin the wheel.  If the spinner stops in between two numbers, the player will spin again.    
  3. Turns will continue clockwise for the duration of the game. 
  4. Game pieces always move forward (as if moving forward in time).  If a space is occupied, move your game piece to the next unoccupied space (except for red spaces). 
  5. Complete the tasks required by each space. 


Orange – Common spaces are colored Orange.  Instructions associated with Orange spaces must be followed. 

BlueBlue spaces have optional instructions.  The player can choose to follow or ignore the instructions.

GreenGreen Spaces are “PAY DAY” spaces.  Anytime that a player lands or passes a Green “PAY DAY” space they will collect the salary that is displayed on their current Salary Card

Red – STOP!!!  Regardless of the how many moves a player has on a turn, the game piece must stop and follow the special directions associated with any Red space.  Once players satisfy the requirements of the Red space they will immediately spin and move again.

  • Get Married – Add 1 people peg to the game piece and collect 1 LIFE Tile.  Spin and move again. 
  • Buy a House – Receive a House Deed at random from the House Deed deck.  Pay the bank the price of the deed.  If the player lacks the funds for the home, they must borrow the appropriate amount of Bank Loans.  Insurance is optional and is paid as a separate transaction.  Spin and move again.  

Life Spaces – When the game piece lands on a Life Space (spaces with the LIFE game logo) the player will draw a LIFE Tile from the draw pile.  If no LIFE Tiles remain, take a LIFE Tile from an opponent of choice.  Place the LIFE Tile in front of you without looking at the information on the back of the tile. 

Babies – Add the appropriate type and amount of people pegs to the game piece every time you land on a Baby Space and collect one LIFE Tile

Career Spaces – The symbols on the Career Spaces correspond to the symbol on the Career Cards.  There are three outcomes to landing on a career space.

  • If an opposing player owns the Career Card matching the Career Space the current player lands on, pay that player the amount on the space.
  • If the current player owns the Career Card matching the Career Space pay nothing.
  • If no player owns the matching Career Card, pay the bank the amount on the space. 

Taxes Due Spaces – This space requires payment to the Accountant.  If there is no Accountant, then pay the bank.

“You’re fired!” and Mid-Life Crisis Spaces – If a player lands on these spaces they will have to select 1 new Career Card and 1 new Salary Card (an opposing player will fan out the cards with the information face down).  The old cards will be discarded and placed into their appropriate decks.

Night school – Follow the instructions for payment to the bank.  Draw 2 Career Cards and 2 Salary Cards with another player fanning out the cards, information side down.  This gives the player a total of 3 cards for each type.  The player can choose any 1 card of each type and must discard the other 2 back to the deck. 

Retire – The player has reached the last space on the board.  At this time

  • Pay the bank on any outstanding loans.
  • Place your game piece at either Millionaire Estates (LIFE Tiles are vulnerable and can be taken by opposing players)or Countryside Acres (collect 1 LIFE Tile, your LIFE Tiles cannot be taken by opposing players).
  • Place your House Deed, Insurance Policies, Career Card, and Salary Card out of play.  You can retain and continue to collect on your Stock


Once a player accumulates $50,000, they can purchase 1 Stock of their choice at the beginning of any of their turns.  Any time any player spins the number on the Stock, the player with that stock will collect $10,000.  Only 1 Stock can be owned at any time unless a player lands on the Stock Market Zooms space, where the player can collect an additional stock.  If a player loses their only Stock, they can purchase another during the beginning of any turn for $50,000. 

Automobile Insurance:

Insurance for your automobile can be purchased for $10,000 at the beginning of any turn.  Insurance protects your vehicle against any accidents, damage, or theft.

Homeowner’s Insurance:

Is purchased with or after a home is purchased.  Insurance protects the home from floods, tornadoes, and theft. 

Special Rules:

Special Police Officer Rule – The Police Officer can impose a speeding fine (paid to the Police Officer) of $5,000 every time a player spins a 10.  The player with the Police Officer career card must notice that the player spun a 10 for the fine to take effect. 



Once all players have reachedthe Retire Space andhave satisfied the requirements for Retirement, they count their remaining money.  The player that chose Millionaire Estates with the most money will draw the 4 LIFE Tiles that were placed there prior to the start of the game.  If there is a tie, then the tiles will be split amongst players appropriately.  At this time, all players will reveal the information on all their life tiles.  The player with the highest combined value of LIFE Tiles and money wins the game. 

Playing with Kids: 

Like any game requiring money management, children can benefit greatly from The Game of LIFE.  Many adults choose to play the game with their children by removing some of the more complex elements from game play.  When peripheral items such as insurance documents, loans, and stock cards are removed, children have a much easier time understanding and grasping the concepts of the game. 

Versions Over Time: 

The Game of LIFE has undergone many different versions since it was copyrighted by Milton Bradley in 1963.  The original game had a “Day of Reckoning” where players had to choose between moving to “Millionaire Acres” (if they were already wealthy), or trying to become a “Millionaire Tycoon” at the risk of being sent to the “Poor Farm”.

In the 1970s, the dollar values were doubled to match inflation.  In the 1980s, the game pieces were changed from convertible cars to minivans.  In 1991 The Game of LIFE was updated to incentivize good behavior.  In 2005 the game was updated to reduce the element of chance but had little impact on players rewards for taking risks.  In 2018 Pet Pegs and pink Pet Spaces were added to the game. 

Quick Info: 

Time: 60 Minutes

Ages:  8+

Community Suggested Ages:  6-14


  • Hello Kitty Edition (1999, Japan Only)
  • The Game of Life in Monstropolis (Monsters, Inc.) (2001)
  • The Game of Life Card Game (2002)
  • Fame Edition (or Game of Life Junior/travel version) (2002)
  • Star Wars: A Jedi’s Path (2002)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (2004)
  • The Simpsons Edition (2004)
  • Bikini Bottom SpongeBob SquarePants Edition (2005)
  • Pokémon Edition (2006, Japan only)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  • Twists and Turns Edition (2007)
  • The Game of Life Express (2007)[1]
  • Monsters, Inc. version
  • Indiana Jones Edition (2008, Target exclusive)
  • Family Guy Collector’s Edition (2008)
  • The Wizard of Oz Edition (2009)
  • The Game of Life – Haunted Mansion Theme Park Edition (2009)
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy, The Game of Life Collect and Win game (2010)
  • The Game of Life High School Edition (aka “Pink Edition”)
  • LIFE: Rock Star Edition
  • The Game of LIFE: It’s a Dog’s Life Edition (2011)
  • The Game of LIFE: Despicable Me (2014)
  • LIFE: My Little Pony Edition [7]
  • Inside Out (2015)
  • LIFE: Yo-Kai Watch Edition (2016)

Community Rating:  4.2

Overall Rank: 16,751

Difficulty:  1.18/5

Published Year:  1960

Creator/Publisher Credits: Milton Bradley

Official Site: (Not available)

If you like this game you’ll also like:  Chutes and Ladders, Ticket to Ride – First Journey, Bohnanza

If you don’t like this game you’ll want to try these instead: Blokus, The Chameleon, King of Tokyo.