This Midlife Crisis is Just a Game: Want to Play?
Today I bring you some amusement from the past.
Behold, Mid-Life Crisis, the game!
Nearly 35 years ago, in 1982, this game graced the board game shelves. Its tagline was “can you survive your mid-life crisis without cracking up, breaking up, or going broke?”
The game was produced in California by The Game Works, Inc in 1982 and was re-released in 1993. According to an article in The New York Times from 1993, the original version of the game sold 700,000 copies. I’m not sure when it went out of production, but it definitely is not easy to find today. It takes about an hour to play, requires 4-6 players, and is only intended for people over the age of 18.
So, how do you play?
The objective of the game was simply to make it through your midlife with more money, less stress, and fewer divorce points than the other players, and (most importantly) to avoid having to declare a mid-life crisis where you go broke, get divorced, or crack up before the game is over.
To start the game, each player is given a score card and a pawn to place on start. Each player starts the game with a career, $25,000, 500 stress points, and a marriage. To play, each player rolls the die, moves forward the respective number of spaces, and follows the direction on whichever space they land on. Each space can either add or subtract stress points, award or take away money, add or subtract divorce points, or have you use a crisis card or zap card.
An example of a Zap Card:
“PANIC – Your period is late. Go to Doctor and SUBTRACT $1,000 or have the child and ADD 300 STRESS POINTS.”
Basically, crisis cards are things that happen to you and zap cards are things you can make happen to other players. There are also special spaces including career spaces, retreats, and passage spaces.
An example of a Crisis Card:
“Your spouse keeps telling the kids that you are going through the change. Deny everything, talk about personal growth and self exploration. ADD 200 STRESS POINTS.”
When you land on a career space, you must pay the designated amount of money to the player who has that career. Retreats are the 3 big spaces in the middle of the board and they are the spaces you are sent to if you lose your mind, get divorced, or go broke. If you have over 1,500 stress points, you are required to go to Crack-up Ranch for “therapy”. If you get 3 divorce points you have to go to Divorce Gulch to attempt to reconcile with your spouse. If you go bankrupt, you must go to Bankrupt City where you basically become a homeless person begging for change.
The passage spaces are spaces that you cannot skip over. If you roll a 5 and there is a passage space 3 spaces ahead, you must stop there. These spaces make it possible for other players to force a crisis onto you.
The winner is the person with the most money. Each zap card, 100 stress points, or divorce point is equal to $1,000 that you must deduct from your total amount of money at the end of the game.