The definition of what counts as fun has always changed and fluctuated over the centuries. If collecting ferns was the hobby of choice in one century, binge-watching cat videos is the preferred choice a century later. However, irrespective of cultural trends gripping the globe, there’s one form of entertainment that has persisted for centuries.
Board games originated in ancient Egypt, but they are just as popular in this digital age. In fact, there has been something of a resurgence for board games recently, and if you’ve wondered how some of the most popular board games today came into being you came to the right place. We’re going to be sharing some insightful and fascinating origin stories about how some of the most iconic board games came into being and why they were loved so much universally.
Most modern players view ‘Monopoly’ as the glorification of cutthroat capitalism. After its origins, it was banned in the Soviet Union and communist China while Fidel Castro wasn’t a big fan of it either. However, that wasn’t the intention of its creator Elizabeth Magie who was a vocal supporter of the single tax movement in the late 19th century.
Monopoly came into existence in 1902 and was known as The Landlords Game, with players in the game having to focus on snatching up as much land as possible and when the available properties on the board grew scarce it led to the rent rising higher, and fortunes of the landlords would multiply, while other players would spiral towards bankruptcy. The winner would be the remaining land baron who owned everything in play.
The game managed to attract a small base of fans after its release, but people started revising and improving upon the game with their own versions. One of the newer versions was called Monopoly, which came into being in 1934, and Magie sold the Parker Brothers her patent for $500 on the condition that a copy of her original Landlord’s Game would be released as well.
There’s no modern-day board game simpler than Life, but when the game was released in 1860 by Milton Bradley it revolutionized the medium. Bradley had grown up believing games were a sinful distraction, but he reconciled with his cultural belief at 23 when he designed a board game. It was known as the Checkered Game of Life, where participants would lose and collect points by progressing through different stages of life represented on the white squares.
Some squares were positive, while the vice spaces weren’t desired, and to move across the board, players would spin a numbered ‘teetotum’ as dice, and the first player to reach 100 points was rewarded with the gift of ‘Happy Old Age’. Because of the heavy-handed message of the game, Bradley was concerned that audiences would reject the game in New England, so he took it to New York City, which proved to be the right decision.
He managed to sell out all the copies he brought with him and The Checkered Game of Life would sell more than 40,000 copies in its first year.