A Brief History of Modern Board Games

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1906 – The Landlord Game is released, created to show the negative aspects of concentrating land into monopolies

1935 – Monopoly, a variant on the Landlord Game is released by Parker Brothers, it went on to sell a few copies and become the complete  antithesis of the Landlord Game.

1938 – Scrabble is released, it is a relative flop until the President of Macy’s played it on Vacation in 1952 and placed a large order for the game. 150 million copies are estimated to have been sold.

1944 – Cluedo/Clue is released in the UK, deduction games are born.

1959 – Risk is released, a French game designed by Albert Lamorisse who also won an Oscar for best Original Screenplay!

1962 – Acquire, for many the first major European style game (invented by Sid Sackson, an American ironically) is released.

1968 – the first Gen Con is held. Organized by Gary Gygax (yes that one), it was originally a war games get together, now its an everything games place and has over 60,000 attendees.

1974 – Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson published a game called Dungeons & Dragons and changed the world forever.

1977 – Cosmic Encounter, one of the most influential games in recent times. It used the idea of giving you special powers to offer variability and is still to many the greatest game of all time.

1978 – Spiel des Jahres announces its first winner, Hare and Tortoise. Winning this award, typically boosts sales by anything up to 500,000. It was more influential in Europe till recently, but in the last 10 years it has had an impact on the English speaking world.

1979 – Trivial Pursuit, a Canadian game is released. It has gone on to sell 100 million copies and make people who know random stuff feel great.

1983 – the Spiel, the World’s biggest game fair in Essen, Germany begins in a school hall. 5000 people showed up and shut down local streets, today it’s attendance is around 150,000.

1993 – Richard Garfield released a game called Magic: the Gathering. It was the first trading card game and he never had to work again. Thankfully he did and made other games like Netrunner and King of Tokyo.

1995 – Settlers of Catan is released in Germany. Over the last 20 years it has slowly filtered into millions of houses in North America and changed what a board game is to many people. Sales are estimated at around 25 million.

2000 – Scott Alden and Dirk Solko start Boardgamegeek.com. It contains all the board game knowledge in the world and was fundamental in spreading the word of designer games.

2001 – Carcassonne becomes a thing and is followed by 7,676 expansions.

2001 – Munchkin also becomes a thing and is followed by 7,676¹º expansions.

2004 – Ticket to Ride makes trains cool again.

2005 – Caylus becomes the first real worker placement game, a mechanic used by half the the World’s modern games.

2008 – Dominion is the first deck building game, a mechanic used by the other half of the World’s modern games.

2008 – Pandemic, the game that popularized playing cooperatively starts it journey into thousands of homes.

2009 – Kickstarter opens its doors for people to make games without a game company doing annoying things like telling them ‘no we won’t make this game it’s a pile of poop, have you heard of playtesting?’ Thankfully quite of few games turned out to be good, arguably the first to really use the medium was Alien Frontiers.

2012 – Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day begin Tabletop, and online TV show where you watch people play games. Season 4 is hopefully on its way.

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