Board Games – Have Deep Historical Roots Buried In The Sands Of Time

Monopoly, Risk and Clue have roots buried deep in the sands of ancient Mesopotamia.

British archeologist Charles Leonard Woolley unearthed the earliest known board game in the late 1920′s. He was excavating a burial tomb in Ur, what is now southern Iraq. The game, buried with other treasure, had been interred nearly 4,500 years earlier. The Royal Game of Ur is the earliest known board game. Not only did Woolley find the game board and game pieces, he also found instructions for playing the game. They were engraved in cuneiform texts located at the site. The Royal Game of Ur, or the ‘game of 20 squares’ was a race game with two players racing to the end of the board. Since that time similar game boards have been found throughout the ancient world, from Egypt to India. The game Woolley found can still be played today, just as the ancient Sumerians enjoyed it.

Board games have been popular in nearly every known civilization. Many civilizations were playing board games before they developed any form of written language.

Board games come in two basic types. The first uses strategy to win the game. The object is to block or capture opposing game pieces or to capture larger portions of the game board. Monopoly and checkers are both examples of the strategy game. Strategy alone does not insure victory.

Chance plays a significant role in most board games, but not all. Some of the most respectable board games, chess for example, focus on skill with very little luck involved.

Purists feel that luck is an undesirable element. They feel the games should be based entirely on strategy and skill. Others feel the element of chance gives these games more complexity with many more possible strategies. These people feel the element of luck makes these games more exciting. On the other hand, games that are completely games of chance, where no or few decisions are made, quickly become boring to most adults. Many children’s board games are games of luck with few decisions to be made.

The second types of board games are race games. Two or more players move pieces in a race from one point on the board to another. Backgammon is an example of a race game. Again, the element of chance is an essential ingredient in these games.

Luck is introduced into the game in a number of ways. One of the popular ways is by using dice. The dice can determine how many units a play can move, how forces fare in battle or which resources a player gains. Another common method of introducing change is by using a deck of special cards. In yet other games spinners or other such devices are used to determine the play.

A third type of board games is a combination both of the above types. These games employ strategies to conduct a race.

Board Games Pre-date Reading And Writing

Board games have been popular for centuries. The game of 20 squares was played from Egypt to India more than 4,000 years ago. Nearly 3,000 years ago a game that resembles backgammon was developed in the same region. Games using stone marbles were developed in Egypt nearly 1,000 years later.

A board game is a game played with a pre-marked surface and counters or pieces that are moved across the board. Methods of chance are often used, usually dice or cards, to determine the movement of the pieces or counters across the surface of the board.

We are not really sure why early board games were developed. Some argue these games were a device for conducting religious services. Others claim they were employed to teach strategies of war. Today’s board games are recreational and considered good family entertainment.

Board games became popular in the U.S. in the early 1900s. As the population moved off the farm, people had more time and more money to pursue leisure activities. Board games were a family recreation easily played in the home. Chess, checkers and backgammon became tremendously popular.


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Popular Electronic Games – They Are Not Just For Kids Anymore

Superheroes battle monsters and space invaders in fast action games. Players take on the role of these superheroes in epic battles. In other games players race cars, boats, motorcycles, helicopters and planes against villains and even less evil opponents to win high stakes races.

Game titles such as Burnout3: Takedown, ESPN, NHL – 2K5, Silent Hill 4: The Room, Terminator 3: The Redemption, Donkey Kong 3, and, Pokemon have joined the national lexicon as kids have flocked to the lure of electronic games.

Parents, teachers, preachers and politicians, have criticized and in some cases even banned electronic games. Electronic games have been blamed for poor grades, poor conduct and even poor health. If you listen long enough, electronic games are responsible for all of the problems our young people experience today.

One thing is certain. Kids love them. They buy and play them in ever increasing numbers. Electronic games are here to stay.

People have been trying to play games on computers almost since the days of the very first computer. As early as 1950, Claude Shannon, a mathematician and engineer, believed that computers could be programmed to play chess in competition with humans. He became intrigued with the concept of artificial intelligence. In pursuit of this idea researchers and scientists designed crude games that could be played on the huge and clumsy computers of the 1950s and 1960s.

The first actual electronic games as a consumer product were built as coin operated arcade games in the early 1970s. In 1971 Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney and Al Alcorn formed the first game company, Atari. Soon after they produced the first game console and their first electronic game, Pong, as an arcade game. Pong was immediately successful.

This success led Atari and other firms to begin work on home game consoles that could be hooked to TV sets. Atari released its first home console in 1977. Soon games were put on cartridges that could be changed at the whim of the player.

By 1979, the company, Activision, was formed by former Atari game designers. The purpose of this new company was to focus strictly on game software. They decided to leave the development of equipment to play electronic games to other people. This was the first company to build a business of developing and selling electronic games software.

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