Monopoly vs. The Game of Life: Which Board Game to Get?

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You’re getting set for game night, but oh no, you don’t have many good board games, and you need to buy at least one new game to keep everyone happy. Two of the most popular board games out there include Monopoly and the Game of Life, both very family-friendly games.

So, which of these board games is right for you?

Monopoly vs. The Game of Life: A Detailed Comparison

Both the Game of Life and Monopoly look quite similar, but there are some glaring differences between them as well. Let’s compare these two board games on a point-by-point basis to see exactly what you are getting into.

1. Theme

The theme of Monopoly, in its most basic essence, is real estate. Monopoly is a game that focuses on the buying, selling, and trading of various properties such as streets, railways, and other institutions. Monopoly is all about being the wealthiest real estate mogul around, the last person standing.

The Game of Life on the other hand, as the name implies, is focused on life. In other words, the game centers around the things that adults must do in their daily lives, things like paying taxes, getting married, having kids, going to college, getting a job, and so on and so forth. It’s almost like a role-playing game where each player takes on the role of a responsible adult.

Monopoly vs. The Game of Life
Credit: 松岡明芳, CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Objective of the Game

The objective of Monopoly is to be the richest and the last real estate owner. To explain, the game is all about buying and owning properties, with each time an opponent lands on a property you own providing you with a payment. The objective is to be the last player standing, which is done by purchasing as many properties as possible, resulting in your opponents going bankrupt. In other words, it’s all about buying properties and charging rent to the point where your opponents have no money left.

The Game of Life is a bit different, with the game ending not when there is only one player left standing, but when all players cross the finish line and “retire,” so to speak. At the end of the game, the player with the most money, which includes both cash and “LIFE tiles” (each of which has a certain value), is declared the winner. So, whereas Monopoly is about being the last player standing, the Game of Life is about having the most money at the end of the game.

3. Difficulty

If we were to assign a difficulty rating to both of these games, based on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the hardest, we would say that both games are fairly even, with both sitting fairly low on the scale. We would say that the Game of Life has a difficulty level of three out of ten, with Monopoly being a four perhaps.

In other words, both of these games are in fact fairly easy to play, which is why they are considered family-friendly board games. Now, Monopoly may be just a bit more difficult than the Game of Life, although not much. Both games incorporate a good deal of luck because it’s all about getting the right numbers when throwing a dice to move to the best possible spaces, but there is a bit of strategy involved too.

Since Monopoly allows for the constant trading, buying, and selling of properties between players, it could be considered slightly more strategic, and therefore a bit harder too, although we think the difference in difficulty is negligible at best.


4. Number of Players

The Game of Life can be played by two to six players, although some home variations may allow for up to ten players.

The normal version of Monopoly, on the other hand, as indicated in the instruction manual, also requires a minimum of two players. That said, it does come with eight game pieces for a maximum of eight players. We suppose you could create your own game pieces for additional players, although there may not be enough money for more than eight people to play.

5. Average Play Time

When it comes to play time, the thing with Monopoly is that it depends on the number of players, which spaces players land on, and how those players actually play the game. For this reason, a game of Monopoly can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as three hours. If you are playing with many people, it will take some time to complete.

On the other hand, for the Game of Life, you can expect the average play time to be around one hour regardless of the number of players.

6. Variations

The cool thing about both of these games is that there are many versions of them.

The Game of Life has over a dozen different versions available for purchase, and Monopoly has many more, well over a thousand, in fact, 1,144 to be precise as of the time of writing this article.

The Game of Life Junior Board Game

Which of the Two Games Should You Get?

Based on the level of difficulty, the gameplay, and the themes of both Monopoly and the Game of Life, we think that both games are best for families and groups of friends alike.

Now, it does take some strategic thought to play both games, as well as the ability to count into the hundreds and even the thousands, so children under the ages of four or five probably won’t be able to play. That said, once kids are old enough to read and count fairly well, and able to understand basic market concepts (mainly buying and selling), as well as the progression of life in terms of being born, college, a career, and retirement, then they can play both games.

Although we think that these games are both best for some good old-fashioned family fun, realistically, they are a great deal of fun for all ages. However, if you prefer much more complex and difficult games, some serious strategy games, then neither of these games is right for you.

If you are looking for a relatively quick game, something that is very easy to understand, and fun for the whole family, then the Game of Life is probably best. Monopoly is fine for families and kids too, but it is just a bit more complicated and strategic, and it usually takes a lot longer to finish a single game.


The bottom line here is that both Monopoly and the Game of Life are great games to play with the kids, with your family, and with friends too.

Both are relatively simple and straightforward, and they can provide you with countless hours of competitive fun.