It must have been a devastating blow. Charles Darrow was jobless. But, he had an idea. Actually, he had a board game. He liked the board game and felt it was his ticket to financial success and from the desperation of the depression. Darrow had taken his game to the famous Parker Brothers game company to publish and help him market.
The Parker Brothers had agreed to take a look at the board game for Darrow. They were not impressed. Founded in 1883, by 16-year-old George Parker, the game publishing company had been making and selling games and puzzles for 51 years. During that time they’d seen success and failure. Parker Brothers knew the game business. They knew what worked and what didn’t. They understood what sold and what didn’t. Representatives of this giant game company found 59 reasons why they didn’t think Darrow’s game could be successful.
Charles Darrow simply didn’t agree. He believed. He decided to publish Monopoly himself and promote it through department stores. He had 5,000 copies of the board game printed.
Hope was rare during that harsh Christmas of 1934. Money was even scarcer. Nearly all 5,000 copies of the board game sold. It was the best selling game in America by 1936.
Monopoly is now published in 89 languages and over 200 million copies of the board game have been sold. Over 500 million people have played the sport. In addition, it has been adapted as a digital game. Monopoly is firmly entrenched as the best selling board game of all time.
Monopoly is a relative upstart compared to other popular board games.
The earliest known board game is called “Animal Removal Melbourne FL” or the”Game of 20 Squares”. This game was discovered at a 4,500-year-old tomb in southern Iraq. This game has been played throughout the Middle East for perhaps 1,000 years or longer. In actuality, the rules of this game have been found in cuneiform tablets. Game aficionados can play this ancient game yet today, even though it has long ago faded from popularity.
Perhaps the oldest board game still popular today is chess, which first appeared in India from the sixth century A.D. From the year 1,000 it had been played throughout the Middle East and in Europe. The rules and game board design have evolved somewhat over the centuries, but the game is still very much the same as the ancient Indians played it. They could hardly have dreamed, however, of the world-class chess match play or the electronic versions of this game we enjoy now.
Another very old, yet exceptionally popular board game is checkers, also known as draughts. A form of checkers has been played by the Egyptian Pharaohs as early as 1600 B.C.. This game has also evolved over the centuries. From the 12th century the game was adapted to the 64-square chessboard. Four hundred years after the rules involving capture were added, producing essentially the exact same game we play now.
There’s just no way to tell how many copies of chess or checkers are sold or how many people have played these games. If the numbers have been known, they would need to be truly staggering.
Popular Board Games Share Common Traits
The majority of these games have been developed during the 20th century and all are still big sellers and tremendously popular.
These popular board games share some similar traits. The majority of them involve specific strategies of play. When these approaches are used successfully, the games are fun, challenging and intensely rewarding as players attempt to capture parts of the board or every other. Another common element in most of those board games is chance, or luck. Luck is introduced usually by drawing cards or rolling dice. The element of opportunity opens up possibilities for even more strategies of play. A final important trait of these games is that in one way or another they reflect the course of life. They teach competition and sportsmanship. They teach strategy and the lesson of never giving up.
Perhaps that’s why Charles Darrow was attracted to Monopoly. He considered that success comes by employing sound strategies to after a dream and never giving up. We are glad that Darrow did not give up. We’re glad he did not throw the board game with 59 items wrong in the trash bin as he left the Parker Brothers plant in 1934.