Christopher Rovee, "The New Game of Human Life, 1790"

Christopher Rovee, “The New Game of Human Life, 1790″

The appearance of The New Game of Human Life on 14 July 1790 was a significant milestone in the history of British leisure. Its London publishers, John Wallis and Elizabeth Newbery, appealingly packaged the table-game for a flourishing children’s market and for middle-class consumers invested in stories of individual development and social mobility. The popularity of this race-game helped pave the way, in the decades to come, for innumerable, similarly conceived entrants in the competitive marketplace for domestic amusements—including an iconic successor, published in 1860 by a young American entrepreneur named Milton Bradley: “The Checkered Game of Life,” later “The Game of Life” and, finally, simply “Life.”