What fulfills you most? Today, we cover a game that hopes to answer that question. It’s no wonder that a sociologist created the game of Careers. Let me clarify. We’ll review the original 1955 version. None of that Computer Science stuff here. We’re talking pre-Space Race. Careers has numerous versions over the past six decades, and often, the “improvements” did not improve the game.
We’ll get to the review in a bit, but first, here’s a word from our technicians. Feel free to scroll down.
The Fiddly Bits
Designer: James Cooke Brown
Date Released: 1955
Number of Players: 2-6
Age Range: 8 and up
Setup Time: 5-10 minutes
Play Time: around 60 minutes
Roll/Spin and Move
Variable Player Powers
You start a game of Careers by secretly filling out your goals. You pick numeric values for Fame, Happiness, and Money. Each goal type is evenly weighted and each player has to fulfill the same number of goals—the distribution of which goals you want is the only thing that changes. Similar to Monopoly, players travel around the board’s perimeter, but Careers adds internal tracks on the board, denoting the various “careers” you can have like an engineer or a movie star. The first player to reach all of their secret goals wins.
At first glance, Careers looks like a typical roll/spin and move game. It is. But by adding secret goals, Careers stands out from the rest. Yes, you get bogged down by having to reach certain spaces by exact count, but you can sidestep rolling in the internal career pathways by using experience cards you obtained in the game.
Careers also grants players special abilities (or compensation) if they went through a certain career track once, twice, or three times. That’s how it gets classified as a game using variable player powers. You get a hint of what would become one of my favorite game mechanisms of all time. Better yet, you get to dictate, through the course of your actions, which variable player powers (or compensation) you receive. Do you want more fame? Go through the movie star track multiple times. The abilities stack. Do you need more money? Zip through the business track a time or two.
Now it sounds like I have nothing but nice things to say about Careers. It does a lot of things right, and for a mass-market game, it does a heck of a lot of things right. But it suffers from the roll/spin and move madness of rolling, then moving the exact number of spaces depicted on the die (or dice), and you have to do exactly what the game tells you to do. So it feels like the game plays you at times, but Careers has to be one of the few roll/spin and move games I don’t mind playing.
Beware: You don’t want a younger version of Careers. Get the fifties version if you can.
An overlooked classic and one of the few roll/spin and move games I like—variable player powers, baby.