Incredible Facts About Board Games
Board games do not have a boring history. Despite being something usually written off as child’s play or something done on cold and stormy nights, board games have an incredibly vivid and extensive history. Here are 15 important facts you should know about board games:
- Board games are not in any way a recent invention. In fact, board games are ancient! One of the oldest found board games was found in Ancient Egypt. The game of Senet, which consisted of a grid of 30 squares in three rows of ten and two sets of pawns, was found in several Royal Burial Chambers. It was even illustrated on tomb walls and featured in the Book of the dead. Unfortunately, no one knows how to play, despite Historians best efforts to try and figure out the rules. That hasn’t stopped board game companies from making up their rules and selling the game today.
- You can’t play board games without dice. The history of dice precedes that of Senet. Since around 5000 BC people have played games with dice made out of carved and painted stone. These were found in the fertile crescent, the area Syria and Iraq believed by many historians to be one of the first cases of civilized human life. Objects believed to have similar use were found in other areas of the world, including Mesopotamia and Greece. Romans invented six-sided dice similar to the ones used today.
- Award shows aren’t just for actors and singers; they’re for games too! The Spiel des Jahres, meaning “Game of the Year” in German, celebrates excellence in gaming and boosting the sales of top-quality and initially games. The Spiel des Jahresis so influential, that it can increase game sales. Nominated games can sell around 10,000 copies, and winners around 300,000 to 500,000
- There are over four trillion ways to completely fill a Connect Four board while playing. However, if you’re the first player to go, you can guarantee a win, lose, or draw depending on where you put the first chip (put it in the middle column, and you are most likely to win)
- The Game of Life is considered to be the first modern board game. The original version was called “The Checkered Game of Life” and was the only board game made by Milton Bradley himself. It was changed and given the name “The Game of Life” in 1960. Reuben Kalmer invented it and published by the Milton Bradley company.
- The Game of Life has changed multiple times to reflect changes in society. Originally, there were spaces for not-so-pleasant life experiences, including suicide, prison, and poverty. Also, a player could win $100,000 for winning a Nobel Prize. In later years, the reasoning was replaced with appearing on reality TV.
- We all know Monopoly can be a long game, but imagine playing for 54 hours straight. This massive game was played in 1975 by four men in Pennsylvania, USA. To prove this feat, a witness had to sign a form swearing he was there throughout the duration of the game.
- The shortest possible game of Monopoly takes only twenty-one seconds. It includes four turns and nine dice rolls. While possible it is extremely unlikely, as it requires not only having to roll certain numbers on the die but also picking up specific cards. On record, it has never happened by coincidence, but people have set it up.
- Moksha Patam is the inspiration for the modern day game of Snakes and Ladders. The game was popular in India and was used to discuss the concept of Karma. Doing good things lets you climb a ladder, which gets you closer to winning; doing wrong made you slide down a snake, taking you further from your goal. The game was renamed “Snakes and Ladders” during the English colonial when the game was brought back to England.
- Snakes and Ladders weren’t the only game invented in India. Chess originated there between 280-550 A.D. The original pieces included infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots.
- Chess eventually made its way to Europe, and during the middle ages it was considered a game for nobles and was popular as it was used to learn war strategy.
- “Jenga” means “build” in Swahili. And you certainly could make a lot; over 50 million Jenga sets have been sold worldwide, which is over two billion blocks. If you already bought one of those sets and are looking for a new challenge, Jenga Extreme uses parallelograms instead of rectangles.
- During World War II, the Allied Powers used Monopoly sets to smuggle things to and from Prisoner of War camps.
- Ouija boards were originally invented as nothing more than a game or trick, but during World War I it became fashionable to believe they could speak with the dead. Since then, people have taken them very seriously. Four jurors in a murder trial used one to determine the accused guilt and Alice Cooper picked his stage name after consulting one.
- The highest scoring words possible in Scrabble are Netzahualcoyotl and Czechoslovakian. Those words aren’t even the hardest to get on the board, however. There are thirteen words included in the Scrabble dictionary that is completely impossible to spell out using one complete set, even with the blank tiles. These include Knickknack and Senselessnesses, so if anyone pulls those words out, they’re cheating.
- Lastly, thanks to funding sites like Kickstarter, big companies no longer have a monopoly on the board game industry (no pun intended). New games have been flooding the market and because people can earn funding and, as a result, demand for new and original games has increased.