Since the start of civilization, people have searched for a way to pass away extra time. Dice, cards, and other portable games have been popular with soldiers, travelers, and groups of children. In the past century, however, the popularity of these games and other board games has soared as people continue to look for new ways to entertain themselves and one another - at parties, family gatherings, and during a rainy afternoon.
During the latter half of the 19th century, two competing game manufacturers increased a number of classic popular board games. Milton Bradley, a lithographer, or print maker, introduced Parcheesi in 1867. Fifteen years later, a competitor, George Parker, appeared and produced a game called Banking.
The two companies began to compete for the attention of the American public. Milton Bradley introduced Tiddly Winks, so Parker's company, the Parker Brothers, responded with Sorry! and Monopoly. Milton Bradley countered this with only Scrabble and Candyland, but in the same year the Parker Brothers challenged back with Clue.
With the release of many other popular games, including Yahtzee, Risk, and Operation, the two companies battled on through the postwar decades of the 20th century. As America's middle class began to grow, so did their taste for board games, including games made for groups, such as Twister, or games made only for two, like Battleship. Children's games, like Hungry Hungry Hippos and Connect Four, also became very popular.
The 1980s saw a mini-revolution in the classic board game, as new games designed for play with larger groups of people appeared on the scene. Games such as Trivial Pursuit and Taboo quickly caught on and were an instant hit at social gatherings during this decade.
Classic Board Games
Some board games never seem to go out of style, and classic favorites like Monopoly have been released and re-released in a number of different collector editions. Players take turn rolling dice and moving around a four-sized board, buying property or paying taxes as they go.
Choose from vintage Monopoly boards offering the classic setup to Disney Monopoly, or choose a favorite baseball team and play Red Sox Monopoly instead. Some boards even feature different cities or geographic locales, like Chicago Monopoly.
Another class game which has been released a number of times is Clue. Although each board edition may have different graphics or designs, the general theme is the same: someone has been murdered, and it's up to the players to find out whom, where, how, and by whom.
Risk, another timeless classic, has accumulated its share of adoring fans over the decades since its introduction. This game involves a strategic bid for word domination - on a playing board, of course. Castle Risk and Risk 2210 are popular varieties.
In The Game of Life, players steer automobiles across a playing board, getting married, going to college, and even having children. In the end, they retire and become millionaires - or paupers, if they risk and lose it all. Originally released in 1960, an updated version of the game board is easily available today wherever games are sold.
Twister is still the life of a party, or an active group. Players take turns placing their hands or feet on circles as the dial instructs. Sometimes, a photograph of the results is worth far more than a thousand words!
Another popular two-player game is Stratego. Players choose armies and battle, playing a board game version of capture-the-flag. Sometimes, though, the battlefield can be a dangerous place, and the player who loses his or her flag or armies first is conquered.
Word games are fun and challenging for players of all ages. In Scrabble, players take turns trying to use as many tiles as possible from the seven in their inventory to form words. Rarer letters such as 'Q' or 'Z' are yield higher point totals when played. The board is designed with letter and word bonuses that sometimes make strategic decision the winning - or losing - word of the game.
One other word game enjoyed by players for decades is Boggle. A clear box containing a variety of letters is shaken, and each player has three minutes to form words from the letters that turn up.
The next time the sky clouds over, don't let your mood get overcast as well. Order a pizza and sit down with friends, and feed your brain with a few games of Boggle or Scrabble. Or, if you have hours to spare, pull out Monopoly or Risk and prepare to take over the world instead!