Reuben Klamer, creator of the Game of Life, dies at the age of 99


“He understood that the game of life wasn’t just the game he invented; it was a brand, ”he added. “And in order for a brand to remain viable, it has to develop further. It must reflect the market conditions of the time. “

But as Jill Lepore wrote in The New Yorker In 2007, redesign teams always found it difficult to address the game’s basic criticism – that the only way to reward a player for virtuous acts is to reward them with cash: “Save an endangered species: collect $ 200,000 . Solution to Pollution: $ 250,000. Open chain for healthy foods: $ 100,000. “

And so the revision of the company in 2007, the game of life: Twists & Turns, was almost existential. Rather than getting players on a set path, it offered multiple ways to start in life – but nowhere to end. “That’s actually the game’s selling point; it has no goal, ”wrote Ms. Lepore. “Life is … aimless.”

Reuben Benjamin Klamer, the third of four children, was born on June 20, 1922 in Canton, Ohio, to Jewish immigrants from Romania. His father Joseph started a company called the Klamer Barrel Company. He drove to shop fronts to buy barrels that had been used for products like jam and pickles, and then sold them for a profit to a processor. Reuben often said he inherited his father’s entrepreneurial spirit.

His mother Rachel (Levenson) Klamer, who worked in a factory, discovered something special in Reuben from the start, but she left her husband and family when Reuben was a young child. His father and new wife Miriam raised the children.

Reuben was the first in his immediate family to attend college. He spent a year at George Washington University but missed his friends back home and moved to Ohio State University in Columbus, where he was taking business classes when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

He wanted to join the Navy, but since Ohio State did not have a Navy ROTC program, he had to move to the University of Michigan for training. He then attended the Midshipmen’s School of the United States Naval Reserve in Chicago and graduated in 1943, after which he was sent to the South Pacific. He received his bachelor’s degree in absentee business from Ohio State in 1944 while still abroad.


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