Just by glancing any of us can identify this picture below.
Because all of us are well familiar with ‘Scrabble’ or even with ‘Monopoly’ games.
Or to be very precise, not just games; but table top board games.
Even though today we have unlimited access to various smart phones and other digital devices
still we love these childhood games.
So, do you agree that till today most of the parents prefer their kids also to continue with these
That is because mainly it is an unintentional suggestion from these parents’ subconscious
And this sort of game has an added nostalgic felling too for these parents.
However on the other hand these board games can be utilized as a very strategic approach to
reduce your kids’ screen time on daily basis similarly.
Anyway, have you ever thought of how these board games began and where?
And do you know how drastically these table top board games spread-out around the world
during COVID 19 pandemic time?
So, let’s catch up in detail.
For what purpose did the first board games serve?
World’s initial board games were produced for entertaining only.
Over the time, these game inventers recognized that they could also serve as an enjoyable and
accessible way to teach morality and ethics to the society.
How did these initial board games look like?
These facts run till pre-historian era.
As you know pre-historic era means, the vast period of time before written records or human
In fact this refers to nearly over 8000 years back or around 6000 bC.
If so, how they made boards before inventing paper or cardboards?
There are many board games found in the Middle East area and ruins can be seen in famous
On certain occasions, ancient man created this kind of carvings on the ground also and played.
Sometimes shells of camels or horses were also used.
Historians claim that these games were not mostly limited just to two players.
Which means multiple players involved in a single board game.
As per academics most of these games were created on wooden surfaces or stones.
Such carvings were created and ‘Mancala Boards’ were shaped.
Even today sometimes poor African children can be found playing with carvings created on
sand and play using seeds.
What are the beliefs associated with board games?
Even today West African community ‘Yoruba’ considers playing such Mancala board games
during dark hours brings bad luck for players.
Because they believe certain invisible souls may join to play.
Specially, when someone dies this tribe believe that it is very unlucky to play with that died
person’s favorite board.
Trusting that those spirits might join into the game as an unseen player.
Ancient board games, culture and magic
Essentially it is hard to define the line where game ends and culture begins; culture ends and
However lots of magical ends or magic poles are particularized in most of these board game
Particularly lots of magical things involve in many board games even nowadays.
Astragalus, divination and board games
Not only ancient men, even today most of us love divinations.
That is why you find lots of horoscope and even fortune telling TV programmes still to continue.
In fact, that is because we love to know even a clue on our future lives.
This can be identified as another reason why these board games have been so popular
Invention of dice
Astragalus were mainly made out of knuckle bones of different animals.
They used these bones for predictions.
And at times used them to make uncertain decisions.
For example, when they were in a dilemma about their shooting ‘should we hunt North or South
Then the final decision depended according to the side or the direction indicated by that freely
fallen animal bone.
Because they used to throw these Astragalus upwards and to let them fall back freely.
On the other hand depending on these Astragalus was not just merely practiced.
It had a very sensible reason.
Because they believed these Astragalus can communicate with gods and predict things as per
Then progressively individuals started to create markings on the sides of Astragalus.
So the players didn’t have to remember the fallen side and then later the new device called ‘Die’
And now dice are considered nearly for good 4000 years in use.
After that people used these kind of dice to generate random numbers rather their belief of
ability to communicate with gods.
Rolling an animal bone with carved markings, tossing a device or turning a card gradually led to
pattern recognition also.
By means of those randomly generated numbers ancient man was directed to the concept of
However on the other hand getting an unexpected results drove him to magic.
And now you may understand easily that, this is the initiation of magical concepts associated
with board games.
Romans loved dice games
When Romans invented concrete and even newspapers nearly in 200bC, still they had a culture
of dice games and gatherings.
They continued to believe the anticipated number or the side falls as per the God’s decision or
So basically board games have a deep-rooted affiliation with magic, luck, horoscopes,
constellations, stars, planets and Gods etc.
Even today, if you are into this kind of games basically elder players do not allow any stranger
to touch their card pack or dice.
That is because they believe that some sort of evil would transfer from that guest’s hands if he
touches the dice or the card pack, which would result in losing the game.
Not only Romans, even ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Indians were also well into
these board games.
Chess is one of the most known board games originated in India.
However most of the evidences of such Indian board games already destroyed since their
boards were mostly drawn on cloths.
‘Chaturanga’ board game to be identified the very early evolution of Chess in ancient Indian
Originally this Chaturanga game was a four player game.
And then on a later stage it turned out to be a two player chess game.
In this Chaturanga game there were 02 kings called ‘Raja’s and 02 ministers.
However there was no queen present at the phase.
Additionally it shall be understood that the Vedic teachings and their astrological findings also
had a major impact on shaping Indian board games throughout.
Social impact and family bonding of board games
Now you know a lot about board games and let’s talk about some benefits of playing board
Especially during pandemic, lots of family members had a great chance to spend time with their
So as per academics, these kind of table top board games facilitated to increase bonding
among family members.
When families meet to play board games usually they want to have fun.
Simultaneously, they may pick up some serious approach on social issues too.
As explained earlier commonly many board games invented with the purpose of delivering
moral values to the society.
Further benefits and aims of board games
To be very specific on board game ‘Monopoly’, this was created as a social justice game to
increase awareness about affordable rents, land taxes and occupants’ rights.
‘Chutes and Ladders’ game grew out of an early game illustrating moral lessons along a life
journey with evils and merits.
So in general most of the board games were designed with the aim of providing something for
Enjoy your board game today!
To conclude in very simple words ‘Board Games provide a good opportunity to support family
And it should be emphasized that people’s choices today will have a major impact on human
health and well-being in the future.
So, Enjoy your board game today and encourage your kids too !