The Strong | National Museum of Play | Rochester, New York
In printer Milton Bradley’s best-selling game, The Checkered Game of Life, the winner is the first player to accumulate 100 points and reach Happy Old Age while avoiding poverty, ruin, and suicide along the way. Later, Civil War soldiers carry portable versions of the game on the march with them.
The firm Selchow & Righter is called a game jobber during the late 19th and early 20th centuries because it purchases licenses and produces other owners’ games. Selchow & Righter secures rights to Parcheesi in 1870 and four years later trademarks the name, which is based on the ancient Indian game Pachisi.
George Parker begins manufacturing games in 1883 and is soon joined by his two brothers. The firm’s fun games spurn overt educational or moralistic themes for good game play like that found in PIT, a trading game in which players try to corner the market on commodities like wheat, rye, and barley.
Elizabeth Magie publishes a board game she invented in 1904 titled, The Landlord’s Game, to promote Henry George’s theories for solving inequalities of land ownership and wealth. Players soon modify it to emphasize bankrupting other players, and eventually the game evolves into Monopoly.
Image courtesy Thomas Forsythe
Germans publishers reshape an earlier American game called Halma to a hexagram-shaped game board, calling it Stern-Halma, meaning “Star Halma.” The Pressman Company publishes the game in America, first calling it Hop Ching Checkers. Other makers produce versions that they call Chinese Checkers, though it has no connection to China.
Former infantryman Charles S. Roberts sells his first war strategy games out of his garage by mail order and eventually names his firm Avalon Hill. Tactics pioneers the use of odds-ratio combat results and cardboard counters to simulate warfare and command, and many of its mechanics and conventions become standard for later types of wargames.
American Board and Card Game History is produced by The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. Learn more at www.museumofplay.org.