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The Game of Life designer Reuben Klamer has passed away

Prolific toy inventor created 1960 board game considered only second to Monopoly in terms of sales.
Reuben Klamer
Image: People of Play

Reuben Klamer, the prolific toy and game inventor behind ubiquitous family board game The Game of Life, has died.

During a career that included stints at Ideal Toy Company and Eldon Industries, Klamer was responsible for hundreds of toy designs, including Fisher-Price’s Preschool Trainer Skates - which remained on sale for more than three decades - hula hoop rival Art Linkletter Spin-A-Hoop and the first snap-together hobby model sets that avoided the need for glue.

Klamer also pioneered the widespread use of unbreakable polyethylene instead of plastic prone to dangerous shattering, which became an industry safety standard.

The Game of Life board game gameplay
Image: Erin Cadigan/stock.adobe.com

The inventor’s acclaimed work in toys later saw him design props for television series including The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek’s original series, resulting in the phaser rifle.

It would be Klamer’s work on a board game that would go on to become his most successful creation. Inspired by a 19th-century game called The Checkered Game of Life - the first title released by toy and game giant Milton Bradley - Klamer designed The Game of Life, which provided a lighthearted simulation of players’ lives from college to their eventual retirement.

Players could take up a variety of jobs, typically aiming to amass the most amount of money before the end of the board’s pathway - which was traversed in plastic automobiles into which players could place pegs representing a spouse and children.

The Game of Life was released to mark Milton Bradley’s 100th anniversary in 1960, and would go on to sell an estimated 70 million copies - making it second only to Monopoly in terms of commercial board game sales.

Klamer was subsequently inducted into current Game of Life publisher Hasbro's Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Toy & Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIEs) in 2009.

Klamer passed away at his home on September 14th aged 99, according to TAGIEs organiser People of Play.


About the Author

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Matt Jarvis

Editor-in-chief

After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.

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