… And you learn something from playing them too!


256px-Small_Box_MonopolyIf a game can be classed as educational as well as being genuinely considered fun, you will almost certainly have heard of it. It is, quite literally, a winning combination. The genre of the board game has produced a number of examples down the years – Here is a potted history of two of the best.

Board games have been played since ancient times; they were particularly popular in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Despite living in a digital world, surrounded by Play Stations, computer games, iPads, Kindles, and other electronic game playing devices, traditional board games still retain a popular appeal.

New board games are invented and put forward to game manufacturers every day, and yet, with the exception of chess and draughts, only two games are as popular today as when they were first released; continually beating all fresh competition.

Scrabble and Monopoly have been in the top 5 of best selling board games in the UK (and the world) for decades, frequently in positions 1 and 2.

Scrabble was first developed in 1938 by the American architect Alfred Mosher Butts. He adapted Scrabble from a game he’d already created, called Lexiko. Both of Butt’s games used the same set of letter tiles which could be used to create words and accumulate points. His new game added a squared game board, and a crossword style approach to the game. At first, Butt’s new game was called Criss-Crosswords, but in 1948, after James Brunot bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold, the name was changed to Scrabble.

By 1952, unable to meet demand himself, Brunot sold manufacturing rights to Selchow and Righter, who had sold nearly four million sets by 1954. The name Scrabble was trademarked in 1972, and is now produced by the Hasbro Company.

Monopoly began life in 1902, under the name The Landlord’s Game, and was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie. Always keeping the basic idea to accumulate property, The Landlord’s Game went through many redesigns until 1933, when Parker Brothers altered its layout of the game now known as Monopoly, so that it was similar to the board we recognise today.
In the 1970’s, Charles Darrow printed up the instructions for Monopoly that we use today. Like Scrabble, Monopoly is now manufactured by Hasbro. More than 275 million Monopoly sets have been sold worldwide to date, in 111 countries and in 43 different languages.

To coincide with their continued popularity these board games, Hasbro have developed online and computerized versions of Monopoly and Scrabble – both of which are also among the most popular in the world.

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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