ChurchMerch – Your Best Life Now: The Game

So a friend of mine saw a rather strange item on my Amazon wishlist and decided he would, as a bit of a gag I suppose, buy it for me. And so in today’s mail I found a copy of “Your Best Life Now: The Game.” The box declares that it is “Inspired by the #1 New York Times Bestseller” by Joel Osteen and says, “The 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.” I immediately cracked open the box and set the game up on the parquet floor in my office. I did not have time to really figure out how the game works, but did snap a few poor quality photos of it (you can click on any of the pictures for larger versions).

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So here is the box. Very exciting. Joel looks happy, as always. I would be too if someone turned my book into a board game.

And here is what the game looks like when it’s all setup. The board is pretty bare. Players begin at the “Today” space and work their way towards the “Tomorrow” space. Or as the manual says, “You’re starting the game ‘Today’ and playing for your full potential ‘Tomorrow.'” I wonder if backsliders can play the game backwards.

Players progress through seven levels in the game. Each level has a challenge that must be overcome in order to progress to the next stage. Naturally, these levels relate to the seven steps of living at your full potential. To begin the game, each player takes a piece of paper and writes a goal he or she would like to reach. These papers are folded and placed in the “My Miracle” envelope which is then placed under the “Tomorrow” space on the board. Each player is also dealt seven Wonder Word cards and two Have Faith cards (which can be used to keep a player from missing a turn later in the game). Tokens are placed on the board, the youngest person at the table rolls the dice, and the game begins.

Level 1 is Enlarge Your Vision. At this stage players select an Enlarge Your Vision card, each of which has a picture or image on it. Players search for images within the image (such as a cat in a cloud or a dollar bill in Joel Osteen’s eyes). There are no right or wrong answers.

Level 2 is Develop a Healthy Self Image. At this level players, after turning the 15-second timer, make positive statements about themselves while looking into the tiny, barely-reflective mirror provided with the game. A player who cannot complete this challenge, either due to low self-esteem or uncontrollable laughter, will lose a turn (unless he wishes to use a Have Faith card). “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.”

Level 3 is Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words. At this stage players draw a card with a negative word on it and they must build positive words off this negative word much like a crossword puzzle or really easy Sudoku. Players have fifteen seconds to list at least three positive words. If a player cannot do this within fifteen seconds, he can play a Have Faith card. In this case he must also draw a Wonder Word card and make a positive statement using the word on this card.

Level 4 is Let Go of the Past. At this level players must tell stories or list items about their past based on suggestions on the Let Go of the Past cards. If a player cannot do this and opts to play a Have Faith card, he must make a statement about his past using any of the Wonder Word cards.

Level 5 is Find Strength Through Adversity. This time around players draw a card and read a statement about a famous person who faced adversity (I’m guessing Jesus, Stephen and the martyrs are represented). He will then explain how he has faced similar adversity and succeeded. If he cannot do this, he can play a Have Faith card, in which case he will need to make a statement about deriving a positive from a negative based on a Wonder Word card.

Level 6 is Live to Give. The first player to reach this stage opens the My Miracle envelope and reads all of the goals aloud. Each of the players takes the other players’ goals and writes a “Potential Promise” for each goal. This is a promise to help the winner of the game to reach his goal and help him live life to its full potential. The potential promises are placed back into the envelope. Subsequent players to reach the level must use a Wonder Word card and make a statement about giving using that word.

Level 7 is the exciting conclusion. Each player is asked to make statements and tell stories about things that make them happy (Like squirrels. Squirrels make me happy with their silly chattering and funny teeth). A player must make a statement or tell a story according to the instructions on the card.

The first person to reach “Tomorrow” wins the game. He opens the My Miracle envelope and reads about the goals and promises of all players. The other players must now help the winner reach his goal by fulfilling their promises to live Your Best Life Now! No word on whether the losers get to have a good life too, or if they are condemned to mediocrity.

And that’s the game. I feel dirty.

PeleYou know, as I read through the game I was drawn, somewhat nostalgically, to an episode of The Simpsons I watched many years ago. In that episode Springfield has gotten a professional soccer team. At the beginning of the first match, soccer hero Pele is paraded onto the field. He stands at center field and says, “Pele is king of the soccer field. To be king of your kitchen, use Crestfield wax paper.” The owner of the team then hands him a giant bag of money and Pele marches off the field. I can’t help but think that this game represents just that. “Endless Games” handed Osteen a big ol’ bag of money to use his name and the title of his book. I’m guessing, though, that I am the only person in the world who actually owns this game.

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting us next week and I’ll be sure to drag it out and play a game of it with them. Should be fun. I’ll let you know how we enjoy it. Meanwhile, begin to anticipate the imminent arrival of The Discipline of Discernment: The Game, coming your way in the Spring of 2008!