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Shella Sund via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Shella Sund via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

12 Cold, Hard Facts About Life

Shella Sund via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Shella Sund via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Famed board game manufacturer Milton Bradley has been creating diversions for well over 150 years, and The Game of Life is among its most celebrated. Check out 12 facts about the game’s history, its controversies, and how it wound up someplace far more revered than your closet.

1. IT WAS MILTON BRADLEY’S FIRST-EVER GAME.

Before Milton Bradley became synonymous with cardboard amusements, the 23-year-old developed The Checkered Game of Life in 1860. Because games were considered a waste of time, Bradley tried to downplay its frivolous nature by eliminating any dice or cards, instead boasting of its “virtuous” teachings. Consisting of 64 squares that took players from “Infancy” to “Happy Old Age” with pitfalls in between, the game sold 40,000 copies during its first year of release, making Bradley a recognized name in recreation.

2. "SUICIDE" WAS AN EARLY SQUARE.

In less politically correct times, Bradley’s earliest version of Life offered both great reward—advanced education, marriage—and significant penalties for making poor choices. Instead of a prosperous retirement, players could find themselves on “Suicide,” a square marked with a head encased by a noose. You could also find yourself upon “Ruin,” where you fall over drunk and destitute. 

3. CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS LOVED IT.

Sensing a need to supply Civil War soldiers with items to occupy their minds, Bradley offered a bundled game set that included chess, checkers, dominoes, and his own Checkered Game of Life. At less than five ounces, the package was small and light enough to be mailed virtually anywhere; Bradley advertised it as “just the thing” to send to members of the armed forces during Christmas.

4. IT WAS REINVENTED IN 1960.

To commemorate the game’s 100th anniversary in 1960, Milton Bradley gave freelance designer Reuben Klamer a task: update and retool Bradley’s original idea for contemporary audiences. Klamer added a spinner, tiny plastic avatars in automobiles, piles of cash, and removed most of the more morbid fates for players. The revised, suicide-free edition has gone on to sell over 50 million copies.

5. ART LINKLETTER HELPED SELL IT.

Klamer had a relationship with television host Art Linkletter stemming from an attempt to imitate the success of Wham-O’s Hula Hoop with their Spin-A-Hoop. When Klamer designed the new Life, Linkletter promoted it heavily on air and even appeared on boxes with the quote, “I heartily endorse this family game.” The $10,000 bills were printed with his face on them.

6. BRADLEY APPEARED ON THE MONEY.

As a tribute to the company’s namesake, Milton Bradley manufactured all denominations of bills from their 1977 release with the face of an older, bearded Bradley.

7. IT EVENTUALLY REWARDED GOOD BEHAVIOR.

Klamer’s reimagining of the game drew perpetual criticism for rewarding materialism: The player with the most money wins. In 1992, the company offered an update featuring squares that allowed players to adopt pets, vote, and drive sober.

8. IT BECAME A TV GAME SHOW.

Recognizing Life had unparalleled brand recognition, Hasbro—which absorbed Milton Bradley in 1984—paired with TV network the Hub Network in 2011 to air The Game of Life as a family game show. Teams competed in trivia and activities of daily living like barbecues; a computer-generated board moved car pieces through squares. At least one contestant got motion sickness from having the prop shaken by crew members to simulate driving. It lasted one season.

9. THE ONLINE VERSION OFFERED SAME-SEX MARRIAGES.

Never one to shy away from hot-button issues, Life drew some ire from conservative groups in 2009 when it was discovered that players operating an electronic version of the game could enter into same-sex marriages. As Endgadget pointed out, however, it was always possible to stick two of the same color stick people into their plastic cars in the analog version.

10. THEY SWITCHED TO VISA.

While the paper currency has long been a fixture of Life, in 2007 Hasbro offered Life: Twists & Turns, which switched out hard cash for a Visa-branded credit card reader. Critics huffed that it would devalue money in the eyes of juvenile players; Hasbro countered that the game taught fiscal responsibility.

11. THERE’S BEEN CONTROVERSY OVER OWNERSHIP.

In early 2015, Lorraine Markham sued Hasbro for $2 million in unpaid royalties, claiming her husband, Bill Markham, had revised the game for its 1960 reissue and didn’t receive credit for it. According to NBC News, Reuben Klamer insists Markham only came up with an unused prototype of the game board that underwent revisions before Klamer turned it in. The case is ongoing.

12. IT’S IN THE SMITHSONIAN.

Hasbro

In honor of Life’s enduring place under American beds and on shelves, the Smithsonian Institution made it part of their permanent collection in their National Museum of American History, where it joined another Milton Bradley creation: Simon.

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'Puggle,' 'Emoji,' and 298 Other New Words Added to Scrabble Dictionary
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Scrabble aficionados and wordsmiths around the world will soon have some new reading material to bone up on. In celebration of National Scrabble Day today, the makers of the classic word game announced that 300 new words will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary.

The new words will be published in the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary, which will be released this fall, according to Mashable.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Emoji (noun): A small computer symbol used to express emotion
Ew (interjection): Used to express disgust
Facepalm (verb): To cover the face with the hand
Macaron (noun): A cookie with filling in the middle
Puggle (noun): A kind of dog
Sriracha (noun): A spicy pepper sauce

Some players of the 70-year-old game may be surprised to learn that “ew” isn’t already a word, especially considering that Scrabble recognizes more than 100 two-letter words, including “hm” (another expression), “ai” (a three-toed sloth), and “za” (slang for pizza). If played strategically and placed on a triple word square, “ew” can land you 15 points—not bad for two measly letters.

New Scrabble words must meet a few criteria before they’re added to the official dictionary. They must be two to eight letters long and already in a standard dictionary. Abbreviations, capitalized words, and words with hyphens or apostrophes are immediately ruled out.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told Entertainment Weekly, “For a living language, the only constant is change. New dictionary entries reflect our language and our culture, including rich sources of new words such as communication technology and food terms from foreign languages.”

The last edition of the Scrabble dictionary came out in 2014 and included 5000 new words, such as "selfie," "hashtag," "geocache," and "quinzhee."

[h/t Mashable]

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25 Double-Letter Scrabble Words to Have in Your Back Pocket
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The best Scrabble players are the strategic ones who keep adding words to their player vocabulary. Once you've mastered a number of two-letter words and the high-scoring ones (that are admittedly very difficult to play), start looking to double-letter words to take advantage of the multiples on your tile rack.

1. AGLOO

seal on snow
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Don't have an I for IGLOO? Use an A for AGLOO, meaning an air hole through the ice made by a seal.

2. ALLEE

allee
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Instead of an ALLEY, use this double-double-lettered word meaning a tree-lined walkway.

3. BETTA

betta fish
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Rather than BETA, use that extra T to mean the freshwater fish.

4. BRATTICE

Coal mine
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A BRATTICE now means a heavy curtain or barrier in a mine to help direct air flow, though the medieval meaning was simply a temporary partition along a wall.

5. DRESSAGE

Dressage
Adam Ihse, AFP/Getty Images

The fanciest of all horse training and equestrian events, DRESSAGE is the obedience and discipline riding competition, rather than the racing.

6. FUGGY

man holding his nose because of terrible smell
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To FUG is to make something stuffy or odorous, but its adjective form (FUGGY) and past and present participles (FUGGED, FUGGING) will take care of any extra Gs on the board.

7. GHYLL

two people looking into a ravine
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Not only will GHYLL, which is a deep ravine, utilize a double-letter, but it will help if your tile bar is sorely lacking in vowels.

8. GRAAL

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GRAAL is an older form of the word GRAIL, but it's also a technique used in glassblowing.

9. HEELER

Shoemaker holding high heels
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Don't have an A for HEALER? A HEELER is a person who puts heels on shoes (as well as an Australian cattle dog).

10. HELLUVA

cursing key on keyboard
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If you're having a HELLUVA time getting rid of a few letters, this nonstandard combination word is actually Scrabble-approved.

11. INNAGE

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INNAGE is the quantity of goods remaining in a container when received after shipment.

12. LARRUP

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To decisively defeat someone or trounce them is to LARRUP.

13. MAMMEE

tropical island
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Another double-double-letter word, a MAMMEE is species of tropical tree with large red fruit.

14. MOGGY

cats
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A MOGGY or MOGGIES (plural) is the cat equivalent of a mutt.

15. OLLA

Salad in glass jars
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A quick word to tack onto some common board letters, an OLLA is a wide-mouthed pot or jar.

16. OUTTELL

woman with megaphone mural
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OUTTELL, OUTTELLS, and OUTTELLING all refer to speaking out or declaring something openly.

17. PERRON

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A PERRON can refer to both large outdoor stairways or the stone platforms of certain columns and edifices.

18. PIGGERY

pig in pig pen
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You're surely prepared with PIGGY, PIGGIE, and PIGGISH, but a PIGGERY is a pigpen.

19. QUASSIA

Quassia amara
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Score extra points with a well-place Q. A QUASSIA is another tropical tree whose bitter bark is sometimes used as a digestive aid or an insecticide.

20. SCABBLE

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No, not Scrabble. SCABBLE means to shape roughly.

21. TIPPET

tippet
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A TIPPET is a covering for the shoulders, or a ceremonial scarf worn by clergy.

22. TYPP

balls of yarn
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A TYPP (or TYPPS, plural) is a unit of yarn size. It's an acronym for thousand yards per pound.

23. VALLUM

Vallum at Hadrian's Wall
Optimist on the run, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The VALLUM was part of the defensive wall of earth and stone surrounding Roman camps.

24. WEEPIE

man and woman crying in movie theater
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While WEEPY is an adjective for tending to weep, a WEEPIE is a very maudlin movie.

25. WELLY

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According to the official Scrabble dictionary, WELLY is an acceptable form of WELLIE, the British rainboots.

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