Instructions for "The Game of Life" by Milton Bradley


The Game of Life, then called the Checkered Game of Life, was invented in 1860 by Milton Bradley. It was first first game he had printed and mass produced, and its quick popularity launched Bradley from his career as a lithographer to the world of game-making. 100 years later, the game was resurrected from the Milton Bradley company archives and reworked into a version closer to The Game of Life we know today. Bring family game night into your home by gathering your friends and family together for an evening of board games, including The Game of Life.

Things You'll Need

  • Game of Life

Set Up

  • Set up the game by laying out the game board and attaching buildings to the empty lots.

  • Mix up the LIFE tiles, and place them LIFE-side-up near the game board. Take four tiles from the top of the pile and place them in the Millionaire Estates lot.

  • Shuffle each deck of cards (Career, Salary, House and Stock) and place them facedown beside the game board. Place the Automobile Insurance, Homeowner's Insurance and Bank Loans in piles near the board as well.

  • Select a banker to be in charge of money paid to and from the bank. The banker begins the game by distributing $10,000 to each player.

  • Each player should select a car and place a person peg in the driver's seat.

Game Play

  • After each player spins the wheel, the person who spins the highest number begins the game. Play continues clockwise.

  • When it is your first turn, you must first decide whether to start a career or start college. If you choose to start a career, place your car on the "Start a Career" space. If you choose to start college, place your car on the "Start College" space.

  • If you have chosen to start a career, have another player help you to draw a career card. The other player will fan out the career cards in front of you, and you may draw one card at random. This is your career. You may not keep a career card that specifies "Degree Required." Repeat this step with the salary card, drawing only one card.

  • If you decide to start college, borrow $40,000 from the bank as your student loan. You will remain in college throughout game play until you reach the space that says "Job Search. Stop." At this point, have another player fan out the career cards in front of you, and draw three cards at random. You may choose which career you desire out of these three. Do the same with the salary card; choosing three cards at random, and selecting which salary card you would like to keep.

  • After your first turn, begin regular game play. When it is your turn to play, spin the wheel and move your car forward the amount of spaces dictated by the number you've spun. If there is already another player on your spot, move ahead to the next free space. Follow the instructions on the space.

  • As you move through the game you will encounter colors on different spaces. If you land on an orange space, simply follow the instructions. If you land on a blue space, you have the option of following the instructions, or ignoring them. Green spaces are "Pay Day" spaces. This means you receive the amount of money listed on your Salary card from the bank. Red spaces require that you stop on that space even if you have not finished your turn, and complete the instructions listed on the space. If you land on a space with the word LIFE printed on it, take a LIFE tile and place it in your pile.

  • Throughout the game there are spaces known as "Career" spaces. These spaces have the symbols of specific careers on the space, and give instructions, typically regarding how much money you must pay the person who holds that career card. If another player has that career card, pay them that amount specified. If you have the career card, pay nothing. If no one has that card, pay the bank.

  • There are several other spaces that require special instruction. If you land on a "Change Career" space during game play, you may draw one Career card at random as your new career. Don't forget that with a new career comes a new salary. Draw one salary card at random. When you land on a "Get Married," "Baby Girl" or "Baby Boy" space, add a person peg to your car. Finally, when you land on "Buy a House," select one house at random and pay the bank the amount listed on the card. If you do not have enough money, borrow from the bank.

  • When you reach the "Retirement" space at the end of the board, game play has come to an end for you. At this point, repay any loans you owe the bank, and place your Career, Salary and House cards out of play, as well as your insurance policies. If you believe you have more money than any other players, retire your car to Millionaire Estates. Otherwise, retire at Country Acres.

  • After each player has retired, all of the players who have retired to Millionaire Estates count their money. The person with the most money gets the four LIFE tiles that were placed there at the beginning of game play. All players then add up the amount of money they have in their LIFE tile pile, and add that amount to their cash value. The person with the most amount of money, combined, wins the game.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may buy car insurance for $10,000 (paid to the bank) at the beginning of your turn.
  • After you own a home you may buy homeowner's insurance at the beginning of any of your turns. The amount you owe the bank for insurance is listed on your House card.
  • You may buy Stock at the beginning of your turn for a total of $50,000 (paid to the bank). When another player spins your number, they then owe you $10,000.
  • Note that any player who spins a 10 owes the player that holds the Police Officer card $10,000 -- but only if the police officer notices. This is called "speeding."


  • Photo Credit family image by Mat Hayward from
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