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Reuben Klamer (1922–2021), creator of the Game of Life

by Linnea Crowther

Reuben Klamer was a toy and game inventor who created the Game of Life for Milton Bradley.

Toys, games, and props

Klamer was working at an ad agency when he had an opportunity to create a new game in honor of the 100th anniversary of board games giant Milton Bradley in 1960. He designed the Game of Life, a board game in which players move a plastic car along a track, adding pink and blue plastic pegs for family members as they go along and amass play money. The game became a success, and it’s now one of the classic board games with more than 70 million sold. Klamer invented other toys and games including the Art Linkletter Spin-A-Hoop and Busy Blocks. In addition to designing toys and games, Klamer also designed props for TV shows, such as the phaser rifle used in the original “Star Trek” TV series and the U.N.C.L.E. Special gun for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Klamer on the Game of Life

“Why has it lasted? It’s met the test of time. In a test of time, it’s obvious that it did it because of the game elements. The core elements of The Game of Life: decision making, dedication to the family, money making and fun. Most of all, fun.” —from a 2016 interview for Gamers Alliance

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Tributes to Reuben Klamer

Full obituary: Newsweek

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