EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For November, we’ve got all the pieces in place for a look at the history of board games.
2650 BCE The Royal Game of Ur is played in Mesopotamia.
1300 BCE Two-player strategy game Ludus latrunculorum is played throughout the Roman Empire.
1822 The first American-made board game, Travellers Tour Through the United States, debuts.
1935 Monopoly is released. It would go on to become the biggest selling board game in US history.
1995 European strategy game The Settlers of Catan is released. It has since been translated into 30 languages and called “the board game of our time.”
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Checkered Game of Life, released in 1860 by lithographer Milton Bradley, is known as America’s first popular parlor game and is the basis for the modern-day Game of Life.
- Checkers, known as draughts in the UK, has been played in one form or another for centuries, having evolved from the early Middle Eastern game Alquerque.
- The boot, thimble and wheelbarrow are among the Monopoly pieces to be discontinued in recent years.
- The ancient Egyptian game Senet, which somewhat resembles Backgammon, dates to 3100 BCE and can be seen in this painting from the tomb of Queen Nefertari.
Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!
The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett
The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games, Margaret Hofer
The Master of Go, Kawabata
It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, Tristan Donovan
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Mary Pilon
The Player of Games, Iain Banks
The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit, Philip Orbanes
Searching for Bobby Fischer (movie)
Word Wars (movie)