Board Game History

Egyptians playing “Senat”

Board games extend back into history at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians. With one of the earliest games being a game named “Senat” dating back to approximately 3100 BC. The games name means “game of passing” and was played by 2 players. With a game board of 30 squares arranged in three rows of ten with two sets of pawns. While the details of the original game rules are not 100% understood, there are a couple modern interpretations.

An example of Go

The next game on journey is the seemingly simple but extremely complex game known as GO invented by the Chinese with the earliest recognized written reference in the historical annal Zuo Zhuan in 4th century BC. The game is played in a simple grid of vary sizes ranging from 9×9 all the way up to 19×19. The objective of the game is simple, to surround a larger total area of the board with your colored stones than your opponent by the end of the game. This deceptively simple objective allows for a vast and complex level of game moves. In fact GO is so complex that it is a difficult for a computer program to be much of a challenge due to the sheer possible number of moves possible.

An example of Patolli

After Go comes an relatively simple game but widely spread game that was played by large range of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. The game was called “Patolli” and was a race / war game that largely concentrated on Gambling. Agreeing to play wasn’t a casual affair with players betting all sorts of things from blankets to jewelry to food to their own individual freedom. Once an agreement was made to play the players would invoke the god of games and would make offerings of incense, prayers and food before beginning.

Royal Game of Ur

Royal Game of Ur was played after around 1000 BC the game was playing using two sets one black and one white of seven markers and three tetrahedral dice. The layout of the game was a similar race game to Senet and like Senet it is a race game where the course is a straight line for the players to run along.

Keep Playing!

Since then Humanity has continued this strong tradition of board games to create what is now known as an explosion of various games that are as intricate as they are beautiful. Board games are showing a strong come back into fashion and represent a good break from our technology filled lives to a simpler more social time.