Reuben Klamer, mastermind of the game of life, dies at 99


“He understood that the Game of Life was not just the game he had invented; it was a brand, ”he added. “And for a brand to remain viable, it must evolve. It must reflect the market conditions of the time.

But as Jill Lepore wrote in The New Yorker in 2007, redesign teams have always struggled to respond to the game‘s fundamental criticism – that the only way to reward a player for virtuous acts was with money. money: “Save an Endangered Species: Raise $ 200,000. Pollution Solution: $ 250,000. Open Health Food Chain: $ 100,000.”

And so the corporate overhaul in 2007, The Game of Life: Twists & Turns, was almost existential. Instead of putting players on a fixed path, it offered several ways to start in life, but nowhere to end. “This is actually the selling point of the game; it has no purpose, ”wrote Ms. Lepore. “Life is … aimless.”

Reuben Benjamin Klamer, the third of four children, was born June 20, 1922 in Canton, Ohio, to Jewish immigrants from Romania. His father, Joseph, started a business called the Klamer Barrel Company. He walked around storefronts to buy barrels that had been used for items like jam and pickles, then resold them to a processor for a profit. Ruben has often said that he inherited the entrepreneurial spirit from his father.

His mother, Rachel (Levenson) Klamer, who worked in a factory, detected something special about Reuben early on and called him her “million dollar baby.” Yet she left her husband and family when Reuben was a small child. His father and his new wife, Miriam, raised the children.

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

He wanted to join the Navy, but because the State of Ohio did not have a naval ROTC program, he had to transfer to the University of Michigan for training. He then attended the United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School in Chicago and graduated in 1943, after which he was sent to the South Pacific. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration in absentia from the State of Ohio in 1944, while still overseas.

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