Board games have been in existence over centuries ago. The oldest known board games trace as far back as 5870 B.C. This just proves the human necessity to be entertained and challenged at the same time. Board games, more than any, requires mental strategizing. Unlike sports, where the mind is challenged as well but concentrates more on the physical capabilities of the player, board games requires the competence of the player’s thinking process and quick-wittedness to win. This is one of the attributes that set apart board games from many other games.
Board Games Live and Die
This does not mean, however, that all board games are successful. Board games live and die depending on their popularity. If there is an art in playing them, there is even greater art required in creating them. Senet and Mehen are board games traced back in ancient Egypt, but their existence in contemporary or popular culture is almost nonexistent, but their evolution can be more recognizable today. Truth to be told, it is the applicability of the game towards the modern times that, most of the time, decides if the game will live on or wither away.
Grandparents of Board Games
Backgammon, Go and Chess are probably the oldest games still played today. Backgammon is considered as a race game. It requires moving one’s pieces across to the other side of the board. This game needs to roll dice to determine the moves of the game. This game dates back to ancient Egypt, around 3000 B.C., and it’s believed to have evolved from the ancient game of Senet.
Go is believed to have originated in China back in mid-2000 B.C. specifically, it can be traced to Emperor Yao, and subsequently its popularity spread to Korea and Japan. Chess, on the other, was believed to have originated in India in the 6th century. Scholars consider chess to have evolved from an ancient game called Chaturanga.
Clearly Go predates chess a few thousand years back, but they have their similarities. Each only requires two players, and they have to outwit one another. It is not surprising to know that chess originated from India, a country that shares a border with China. However, one glaring similarity both Go and chess have is that they are both war games.
Ancient forms, yes, and nearly incomparable to the war strategy games modern times have to offer in video games. It is believed that both these games came from tribal warlords who used same looking pieces to strategize their attack plan.
In retrospect, having war games as the oldest, still popular board game in present times does give people an idea why it is still applicable today.
Modern Times, Contemporary Board Games
There have been countless board games that have come into existence in our time. But little have the shelf life as the most popular board games still being played today. The exclusive list includes:
* Snakes and Ladders
Of course, Monopoly is almost recognizable across the globe. This is strange because Monopoly isn’t exactly the easiest game to understand. Yet, despite this, the Guinness Book of Records recognizes Monopoly’s worldwide appeal, with over 750 million having already played the game. To think that it has been in existence since 1935, Monopoly’s staying power is a testament how real estate, business, banking, and investment is applicable in our times.
Clue, on the other hand, relies on murder and mystery to keep players interested. Risk is a perfect example of how ancient games like chess came about and Go have evolved to adjust to their cultural environment. Life, in contrast, predates Monopoly. It was created in 1860 and simulates, well, life. Marriage, career, and so on are part of the game, and people find it enjoyable to imagine what life would be like, or what life could have been, in this game.
Snake and Ladders is also another popular board game. The trouble with this game is many adults do not find it appealing. That is why it is nearly exclusive only to children. Adults normally find games depending on chance boring. Relying solely on the dice to determine the player’s fate is not as challenging as most adults would want from board games. The player’s fate in Monopoly is also determined by the dice, but unlike Snakes and Ladders, it still requires players to strategize.
Checkers, or English draught, is another popular game believed to have stemmed out from the form of chess and Go. Still, it is still considered as one of the most popular board game today. In fact, it is more popular than Go, which is commonly associated with Japan.
Lastly, there are the word games. Scrabble is the most popular among all word board games. Like chess or checkers, there are even world competitions for Scrabble. Word Factory, which can be loosely considered as a board game, is also a popular word game.