Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life Lessons from an Old Boardgame

I came across an old board game recently. It was a game I played as a child. It was called "CAREERS" and distributed by Parker Brothers. Any of you remember this game?

Fig 1

Fig 2

Looking back at the objectives of the game, it struck me how close to real life it is, and what some of us might have subliminally learnt while playing it. At the beginning of the game, all the players need to decide on their "Success Formula" (or what they envision to be the meaning of success for themselves). The Success Formula is made of three components: money, fame and happiness, and the total should equal 60 points. For instance, a player might decide to have 30 Money points, 20 Fame points and 10 Happiness points (30+20+10=60). Another player might go for 10 Money points, 10 Fame points and 40 Happiness points (10+10+40=60). And so on.

This is what the score sheet looks like ...

Fig 3

Then the game begins, and the players toss dice and move their counters around the board, picking up or losing points in different ways. There are also Experience and Opportunity cards that the players draw when they land on certain squares on the board. The winner is the one who first achieves his or her Success Formula.

As a child, I played this game without thinking too much about what it meant. Now having gone through five decades of life, I appreciate how close to reality this formula (albeit simple) is. Some people value money above most else, and have focused on accumulating as much wealth as they can. Others want the limelight and strive to achieve fame at all costs.. Fame and fortune ... what more could one ask for? Yet one can't help noting that some of the richest or most famous people aren't necessarily the happiest.

The basis of the Careers game, and of life in general, is that it's all about maintaining a balance. Over-emphasis on one area at the expense of another can lead to dissatisfaction and misery. How much money does one need? How much fame? And how much happiness?  We may not really write down our Success Formula of our real life, but I'd guess if probed, most of us have some implicit balance that drives us each day.

What do you think? Do share your views.

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