Critical Play: Competitive Analysis (Anna Chang)

The Game of Life is an online multiplayer game (mobile app) created by Marmalade Game Studio. The game is rated for ages 4+ on the App Store and E (everyone) on the Google Play Store. The game really does seem to have been designed for players of all ages. Adults enjoy it because it allows them to reminisce on their childhood, and children/younger audiences love it because it allows them to explore exciting stages of life early on. There are also many aspects of the game that make it especially kid-friendly and prevent abuse. For example, custom usernames are removed completely and players simply select a photo from a provided selection and customize their character’s color.  There is also no chat function – players are only able to communicate with a small set of emojis. 

Emojis on the right side.

The idea of The Game of Life is that players progress through life making a number of choices for themselves that take them on different paths in life. It is themed around relatively realistic life events but in a more exciting, light-hearted setting.

Key mechanics of the game include spinning a wheel that determines how many steps ahead they move on the map and other random outcomes. For example, if you land on a red space on the wheel, you could sell your house for $130k, or if you land on a black space on the wheel you could sell it for $300k. Your path in life is not only determined by this wheel but also by some binary choices you make. For example, in the beginning, you must pick between “college” and “career.”

These mechanics come together to create fun that centers around fantasy and narrative. In The Game of Life, you have control over a new life and build your own story. There are some aspects of discovery too. As you progress through life, you encounter new opportunities and make tough decisions. Although the events in the game are all ones we can easily find in the real world, the graphics make it more exciting. Most notably, the environment is full of highly saturated colors. 

This app is a take on the classic board game created by Reuben Klamer and is missing all hands-on/interactive aspects of the original. In order to improve the game, I would try to bring some of these back. For example, in the game, they already have a few random task cards that you could do if you were in the same room as the people you were playing with. If there was a chat or voice feature, this could make the game a lot more engaging and include more fellowship fun that the original is known for.

There is no way to interact with the people you are playing with online, but these task cards occasionally come up.

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