Game of Afterlife

Redesigning the board game classic for a new audience

Project summary

The game of life, currently licensed by Hasbro. Was originally created in 1860 by a man called Milton Bradley. Since then the game has held to its core principles. Roll the die or spin the wheel, move spaces to go through life and it’s milestones. Go to school, start a career, get married and ultimately retire.

During this Project I focused on the structure of the gameplay, let’s call it the timeline of gameplay. And on theming. As I found myself having downtime while at home or on the run, I played Hasbro’s “Game of Life 2” for mobile. But found the experience lacking. Not wanting to pick up and play again.

I will show my new proposed timeline of gameplay, complete with a new theming that inspires the imagination of a new target group. Expanding The game of Life outside of Family board game night, and into the hands of young adults.



The Game of life currently focuses on being palatable to a family audience. Losing their opportunities to expand into the growing board game market, that also saw a surge during the Covid-19 pandemic, of young adult players.


While going through the classic Game of life experience, you as a player make choices along the way. But just after a couple of play-throughs, the choices seem to hold no meaning. Ideally, each game should feel like a unique life lived.


The theme of the game is bright and fun, but lacks in terms of personality. Especially when considering a young adult audience, it’s critical that we feel fond of the ideas and concepts we are engaging with. And invite for more creativity in a session.

The solution

Being a solo designer on this project I mapped out my intended process before starting. I knew that there needed to be space and time for research as well as a full design process. This lead me to create a roadmap where I as a product owner had to apply agile work methods. Any empty spaces would act as buffer periods during the holidays, as this can be an unpredictable time for projects. I would create weekly to-do tickets for myself and update these at the end of each workday if needed.

Investigate current experience

The only way to be able to redesign a game, I have to understand the narrative and experience of the material on an in-depth level. So the first step is for me to sit with, and get comfortable with the material.

Using the mobile app to enable me to play back to back sessions, I made sure to experience the game both as a local multiplayer, solo against the AI and online multiplayer.

After these sessions I took note of any insights or questions I personally gained, and saw these said notes as a UX expert analysis that I could use later. But for now, this will be laid to rest until after I speak with users and do observations.

For now I focused on distilling the current gameplay into its most basic form. By mapping out start to finish and the choices the player makes that take unique routes around the map, I can apply and test my insights easier going forward.


I dove right into research by conducting in-person interviews. By meeting face to face I could not only ask about their previous (if any) knowledge of The Game of Life, I could also observe them playing the game and have them freely summarise the experience to me afterwards.

In total there were 8 interviews, I found that there were 3 of them that really stood out in terms of differing perspectives and previous experience.

Young professional, Software Developer - Previous experience of The game of life

- Previous experience playing the board game, gives deeper insight of expectations in contrast to new players
- Passionate and frequent consumer of video games and table top games

Young professional, Project manager - Avid video game player and consumer

- Speak from a competitive perspective as consumer of competitive games and video game content
- Critical and keen eye when dissecting the entertainment he engages with

University Student, Degree of candidate in Psychology

- Casual player of games, will play in social settings
- Give insights from a users perspective that play games to socialise and enjoy herself

The main insights gathered from the interviews was learning about how they digest the information and experience of the main gameplay flow. I saw a high degree of disappointment when observing their behaviour when interacting with the last stretch of gameplay, after choosing to marry or not. Out of 6 interviews only a handful would willingly play the game more than 2 times, when asked about this I got varying insights about the thought process behind these choices.

Forces combined through affinity mapping the insights from interviews, empathy mapping and my expert review. I  began creating the current user experience. By laying out some of the key moments on a timeline I could contrast and compare them to the previously made diagram on the gameplay stages.


This allowed me to move smoothly into the define stage of this project, aligning between myself and the users. The main insights that I took with me was:


Onwards to ideation! From here I wanted to explore as many different options and opportunities as I could, in a very short amount of time.

This meant exercises such as mind mapping where I could build upon each idea and create visions of solutions I couldn't have seen if I were to just think about it without writing.

I was sure I wanted to mainly explore the core narrative, theme and timeline of The game of life. helping me avoid getting hung up about details of balancing or mechanics early on, but ideas outside of this scope still gave new perspectives that I brought with me.

During mind mapping and discussing the topic of the theme, I found one idea to stick with me.

Show of concept and testing

I was headed in a new decided direction, I had a plan for how to change the gameplay with new mechanics. And a brand new narrative that could be explored. With all new ideas flying around my head, it needed to be brought back to my interviewees for review. I crafted a “quick-review” concept card. Together with my mindmaps I could come prepared to meet back with my interviewees and let them explore the new concept, and discuss any questions with me. After that I would estimate the approval rate of the concept.

After the sessions I’m glad to say that I was met with excitement and intrigue for this new narrative. Many discussions led us down new paths for ideas and specific elements that they saw fit the world. Some commented they saw it tethering the line of anti-culture and enjoyed the classic game being flipped on its head. 

New feedback going forward was to be mindful not to steer into a sad or grim design, as the fantasy aspect together with the cartoony nature currently help users take appropriate distance from the dark theme. I’d like to highlight as well that I gained insights around the users pointing out not to steer too far away from the core gameplay of The game of life.


The final results came to be a mosaic of elements binding the new concept together, complete with descriptions and instructions. With the new gameplay timeline and milestones called resistance and coup, there is now a quest for players to adhere to if so wanted. No longer do users that are looking for a challenge, forced to just get by. Never feeling adequately challenged or having to make decisions about their strategy.

Even with the new changes we get to enjoy the craziness of spinning the wheel and leaving some of our fate in the board's mercy. In the finished result I not only cater to the one looking for a challenge. I also invigorate the casual player's imagination, This is made easier than ever with all new character and relationship cards, injecting personality in all possible touch-points of the game. Ultimately kick-starting the fascination of getting to narrate their fictitious afterlife.

Thanks to speaking and observing users directly, a re-design of an experience outside the realm of screen is possible. This is how we can ensure that we truly are building for the desired target users of young adults. With a first hand account of their delight, thoughts and hesitations that built it all.


This project was a challenge in the sense of me wanting to ensure I got to work with an area of UX I felt was unexplored to me since before the project, and that I could feel passionate about the subject matter. Firstly it is a challenge to not jump straight into thinking UX design is only what we see on screens. And it was hugely beneficial for me to get stuck, overthink and move on and work with the project in new ways each time I got back to it.

It can be hard to trust your own data when it comes to being a solo UX designer on a project. It’s a constant conversation with users back and forth, and this is not like any other process I’ve worked on. And therefore it challenged me to create a concise story of steps in the case study. In reality I did reach out to my users on whims, scheduling calls whenever we could.

One thing that this type of process confirmed for me is that it nurtures a creative expression and playfulness from both sides, designer and user.On a personal note I learnt a lot about my scheduling strategy, flexibility is wonderful, especially in teams. But as the weeks passed I would have benefited from rearranging my scheduling style the last two-ish weeks. Where I would rather focus on time spent on each task, and steering away from general lists of what should be done that day.

Go to top