• magisterrex Retro Games

    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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The Best Classic Board Games – Careers (1955-2009)

Fame. Fortune. Happiness.  Those were the three goals that the player had to achieve, with a total of 60 points to be divided between them, as each player chose their own combination as their ultimate career achievement (if only real life was that simple!).  The first player to reach their three-part goal won the game.  Of course, being a Parker Brothers game, things get a tad more complex with other game elements, including special game board spaces and unique situations presented by Experience and Opportunity cards, that altered game play.

The box front for the 1955 Careers game.

Careers was developed by noted sociologist Dr. James Cook Brown, who also happened to be a science fiction author (he wrote The Troika Incident) and inventor of the artificial language, Loglan.  Dr. Brown designed Careers to be an answer to the what he perceived as the 1950s focus on greed and monetary-based self worth.  Careers encourages players to think beyond just making money, and instead consider that being successful in life has many paths and aspects.  He later redesigned the game to include “enlightenment”, “virtue”, and “power”, but these were not also adopted by the game’s publishers as it transformed Careers from a family game into a game for adults.

There have been several versions of Careers through the years, starting in 1955, with new versions coming out in 1965, 1971, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2008.  With each version came changes to the career choices, box art, contents, and even publisher, but the game mechanic stayed basically the same. (There have also been several non-North American releases, but this article will only discuss Careers games that were sold in Canada and the United States.)

The box front for the 1965 Careers game.

The game was first published by Parker Brothers in 1955.  The original version of Careers featured occupations in Farming, Big Business, at Sea, Uranium Prospecting (really!), Politics, Hollywood, or an Expedition to the Moon (space program).  Players could also get college degrees in Law, Medicine, Engineering, Science, or a general College Degree.  With luck, players could achieve a salary base as high as $19,000 a year!  The 1958 version added reuseable score pads, but those vanished with the 1965 version, which also used the same occupations, but different box art.  The 1955 box art was spectacularly gaudy, and the 1965 version was much more understated. The game board reflected the tenor of the times, with spaces like “Gorgeous Secretary 4 ♥” in the Big Business path or “Shopping Spree” in the main path, where you find out how much your wife spent!

The box front for the 1971 Careers game.

A few short years later, Parker Brothers released a new version of Careers, this time with slightly different occupations: Ecology, Big Business, Teaching, Politics, The Arts, Sports, and Space.  The college education degrees were the same, as was the potential salary level.  The box art changed once again, this time reflecting the spirit of the decade, as did the new look for the play money and Experience and Opportunity card decks. One look at a 1971 Careers game box and you know which decade it’s from!  The 1976 release contained identical pieces and game play to the 1971 version, with a new yellow colored box. Of the two, the 1976 version is much more difficult to find.  Incidentally, the “Gorgeous Secretary 4 ♥” square was replaced by “Lunch with Secretary 4 ♥”, while the “Shopping Spree” flavor text was removed altogether.

The box front for the 1976 Careers game.

In 1979 the game was altered once again, with some of the occupations dropped, the game simplified, and new box art.  This version of Careers had Sports, Show Biz, Big Business, Politics, and Space as occupations (what happened to Ecology?).  Players earned University degrees – not college degrees – in Physical Education, Business, Science, or Law.  The game board was much less detailed, almost as if Parker Brothers were attempting to “dumb down” the gaming experience.  As an aside, any mention of having a secretary was removed from the Big Business path, and replaced with “Given Larger Office 4 ♥”.  The times, they were a-changing.

The box front for the 1979 Careers game.

A relatively unknown version of Careers was the 1990 release of Careers for Girls.  This abysmal game failed both in its mission to prepare girls for their life career choices and to provide an interesting game to play, with choices of Super Mom, Rock Star, School Teacher, Rock Star, Fashion Designer, or Animal Doctor.  This version is best forgotten, unless you’re in the mood to experience mind-numbing awfulness.  But I digress.

The box front for the 1990 Careers for Girls game.

The game disappeared of the gaming radar screen in the 1980s, but returned under a new publisher – Irwin Toys – in 1992.  This version brought back Ecology as an occupation, as well as Big Business, Politics, Entertainment, Teaching, Sports, and Computer Science.    The “Given Larger Office 4 ♥” was replaced with “Transferred to Hawaii 4 ♥” which you would think was surely worth more than four hearts.  The whole presentation had a much cheaper feel than past incarnations, with poorer quality game cards and board art. I’d pass on this version, too.

The box front for the 1992 Careers game.

Pressman Toys brought out a version of Careers in 1997 that was a mashup of several previous releases, with career choices of Big Business, Ecology, Entertainment, Expedition to Mars, Politics, Computer Programming, and Sailing.  The board is a throwback to the 1971 version, and gameplay is the same.  This is a good non-Parker Brothers release, and if you cannot locate a 1971 or 1976 copy, the 1997 version is a good substitute.

The box front for the 1997 Careers game.

Hasbro picked up the Parker Brothers brand name in a corporate acquisition in 1991, and released a new version of Careers in 2003.  This time the box was shrunk to half the original size, and the game board was much more colourful and laid out in a different fashion than previous versions.  Career paths included: Entertainment, Politics, Conservation, Teaching, Sports, and Big Business.  Not a bad version, but still not as enjoyable as the 1970s versions.

The box front for the 2003 Careers game.

The latest reissue of Careers brings the game full circle back to its 1955 roots.  Winning Moves Games has taken the original and brought it back to life, with career paths including Entertainment, Politics, Exploring, Farming, Expedition to the Moon, and Adventure at Sea.  College degrees include Law, Medicine, Engineering, Science, or a general College Degree, which is exactly like the original.  The game board is more colourful than the 1955 version, but it is not as gaudy as some of the other releases.  This is a good version to pick up if you can’t find an original, but bear in mind that it calls for only 2 to 4 players, not 2 to 6 like its predecessors.

The box front for the 2008 Careers game.

No matter which year or which version you play, the game is fairly straightforward to play.  Although there’s a lot going on in Careers, there’s not so much that only adults would enjoy it.  The game gives a minimum age of eight years old, which is, in my opinion, fine.  Although anywhere from 2 to 6 players can play (excepting the 2008 release), this is the kind of Parker Brothers board game that begs for maximum occupancy around the game board.  In other words, Careers is another highly recommended, classic board game. Enjoy!

29 Responses

  1. Great write-up!

    Would anyone happen to know if there’s an app version?

    Also, one sentence had a duplication in it! “Super Mom, Rock Star, School Teacher, Rock Star, Fashion Designer, or Animal Doctor.”

    Nitpick, I know. In any event, keep up the good work!

  2. Do the still have yellow green orange and blue game pieces? If so can I get several about 50 sets?

  3. Looking for a game that has squares that went from 11266 and it had colored dots and ice and go to get to the middle and you can move your players around the square as we’re about to buy to anybody got any ideas what that’s called

  4. Looked this up after yet another game of Careers with my eight-year-old (we rediscovered this childhood favourite of mine recently and are now both hopelessly addicted) and was fascinated to read about how it’s changed through the years.

    One square that caught my eye when I started playing again recently was the ‘Get German Measles’ square in the ‘Space’ path. We have the 1971 version and I’m thinking that that surely has to have been inspired by the unfortunate Ken Mattingly? (For anyone not familiar with the Apollo missions, Mattingly had to drop out of his planned Apollo mission in 1970 when he came into contact with German measles shortly before launch, although he never actually contacted it.) Anyone know whether this is where that particular square came from?

  5. what does an engineering degree get you into in the 1971 version?

    • I’ve always wanted to know this. My reading of the 1971 rules is that any degree will get you into Big Business and Sport for free. Although there is an Engineering degree, it doesn’t seem to offer you anything more than the generalised College degree.

      No doubt people will have come up with their own house rules for the Engineering degree, and it would be interesting to learn what they’ve come up with!

    • Uranium Expedition

  6. i would like to know were on line i can enjoy careers on line. you got monopoly,life and some good board games–but i cant find anywere to play on line. please help me try.

  7. I received this game as a child, about 1972 ,mine seems to be the 1955 version. I have played this game for over 40 years (is that record?) and now play it with my children. I just purchased one off ebay (maybe the 2008 version) as mine is a bit tatty…

  8. We have been playing the 1971 careers game for the past days with the family over Christmas and we are all hooked! I ordered the game off e-bay today for our own house. Great game and before now I had never heard of it before. Must be a mistake with the engineering, as that is not on the board. We have changed a few things to make it more fun. If you land on hobby you get you get all the money that’s on the unemployment square from any fines handed in, added sweets to some of squares and instead of 60 points we changed it to 200 for a longer game. Love this game!

  9. Hi, I’ve just bought the 1992 version at a second hand shop but there’s no score pad. Do you have a PDF of the score pad for that version? Or a Word or Excel type file of one I could edit to match this version? I’m an English as a Second Language teacher and intend to use it for my classes.

  10. […] Now – Scene It (but nobody will play with me anyone… [sad face]); Childhood – Careers (if you’ve never heard of this game, it’s like Life only with a bunch of career paths […]

  11. […] 1976 edition of Careers from Retro Games […]

  12. […] = 'none'; document.getElementById('singlemouse').style.display = ''; } The Best Classic Board Games – Careers (1955-2009) jQuery(document).ready(function(){ […]

  13. Awesome! votre travail rend votre site différent des autres

  14. I LOVE Careers — but only the 1955 version. They “updated” the other ones and it just didn’t do it for me. They should have left it as is because who doesn’t like being stuck on the “park bench,” going “to sea” and into space?! (not to mention the very outdated “prospecting”) LOL! One of my faves!

  15. hi ,great game, from what I remember. I haven;t actually played it in years, but I remember loving it when I was younger. Far better than Game of Life.

  16. I found my mother-in-laws 1955 edition of this game, I have searched and can’t find the rules. I had never heard of this game before today. Do you know where I can get a copy of the rules? It has everything in box except the rule and we would love to play it. I have searched the internet some but can’t find the 1955 rules

  17. […] between the various versions throughout the years can be found in a previous blog entry, titled,  The Best Classic Board Games – Careers (1955-2009) What’s In That Game Box? deals specifically with the game’s contents, which […]

  18. Careers is a great game, from what I remember. I haven;t actually played it in years, but I remember loving it when I was younger. Far better than Game of Life.

  19. Nifty, thanks for posting!

  20. Hello. Fantastic job, if I wasn’t so busy with my school work I read your total site. Thanks!

  21. I am brand-new to blogging and actually loved your site. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking you out. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Your website is brilliant I will have to read it all, thank you for the diversion from my classwork!

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