Game of Life

Updating the classic board game

On Sunday, Apr. 29th we gathered beginning at 5pm to make pizzas.  With laughter and creativity the work began.  A glimpse of the fun can be seen in a video found here.  As people finished their creations, we played ‘human bingo’.  Each person received the same card and was encouraged to find people to sign, one square each, those relating to them.  Boxes included: “Has at least one sibling”; “Has seen all the Harry Potter movies”; “Still has Easter chocolate”; and “Has watched the Windsor-Detroit fireworks”.

As pizzas were ready, we sat and ate.  During this time, individuals were encouraged to draw from the cards scattered on the table and share based on the prompt.  As we result we were told about people who had an impact on our lives; how we played as a child; when we were proud and more.  There seemed to be a natural flow of conversation with sharing and laughter abounding.

Breaking into groups

The topic on the night was the “Game of Life” and provided a chance to reflect on our life’s journeys.  The tweens group talked about what they wanted to be when they grow up and one of the leaders shared how she was preparing to go back to school creating a sense that our paths are not so rigid that they cannot be changed.  The teenagers and adults were each given a chance to explore the board game itself.

The message of the game

Those familiar with the Game of Life know that the first thing participants must do is to decide whether to enter into the workforce or go to college.  Those who choose the former, pick a job right away.  Those who choose the latter go into debt and pick a job when the ‘graduate’.  That job stays with the players throughout the game with only one opportunity to intentionally make a change and few chances that a change is made unintentionally.

Shortly thereafter, players must be married, at which point there are multiple spots in which babies enter the picture.  Then players must buy a house which is upgraded later in the game. Eventually players retire and the game ends.

Space for conversation

This game is designed based on a linear progression through life.  While there are those whose lives mimic this progression, for many, particularly beginning with Generation X, the journey through life is much more twisted.  Not all people are able to get jobs right out of school.  Generation X is expected to change careers, on average, 4 times in their lives.  Some will intentionally make changes.  Some will do so unintentionally because they have lost a job.

Relationships are likewise far more complicated.  Since this game was created, the average age for marriage has increased significantly and the number of children has likewise decreased.  In fact, we have learned that it is entirely possible to have fulfilling lives without marriage and/or children.  Life has changed.  The conversation in the parents’ and teenagers’ groups reflected this understanding.  It is perhaps poignant to note that some of the teenagers ended the game in debt – something that is becoming increasingly common.

What can families do?

Even if parents’ experience fits with the Game of Life, we know others for whom their life journeys are far more complex.  As our children grow older and seek to find their way, it is important for us to draw from our knowledge and experience to let them know no path is unchangeable.  Twists and turns in life, while they can be difficult, can also lead to wonderful things.

As with everything, keeping the lines of communication open remains important.  We can support our children through the challenges and changes of life drawing from our own experiences of the challenges and changes of life.

When all else fails, do as we did at the end of the night, bang a drum to release the anxiety and stress of life and engage in laughter.  Then, take the time to hold what we need in reflection and prayer.

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