5 Mystical Facts About Your Favorite Games

Imagine a cold Friday night in February. The snow is falling outside of the window, and you have no intention of going out. You invite your friends over, and the ‘Game Night’ begins. After all, is there a better way of spending a winter evening than playing a countless amount of board games? Probably no.

Most board games have been around for decades, some even for centuries. But still, there are a lot of things that people don’t know about them. For example, did you know that…

‘Scrabble’ Was Invented By An Architect

‘Scrabble’ can, without a doubt, be considered as the most popular board game these days. It is estimated that around ⅓ of Americans have it in their house. And let’s not forget about the mobile version called Words with Friends and word unscrambler tools available online.

What you may not know is that the early version of the game that we know as ‘Scrabble’ today, was invented by an American architect Alfred Butts in 1933. What is more interesting, though, is how he established how many tiles there should be and how much each letter should be worth.

To do that, he used… the front page of the New York Times. Precisely, he counted the letter’s frequency. According to his logic, the letters Q and Z should be worth 10 points as they were the least used letters in the text, letters A and E should be worth 1 point since they were very common, etc.   

‘Monopoly’ Helped POWs Escape

Monopoly, one of the most popular board games nowadays, was actually designed by Elizabeth Magie, who wanted to show how landlords were taking advantage of their renters. What once was a critique of capitalism, became a game known for celebrating it. Ironic, isn’t it?

What you also probably didn’t know is that the game saved lives. During World War II, the Nazis made a big mistake – they let allied prisoners of war play board games, and they also allowed the British government to send them to the inmates. What they didn’t think about is that the British government will use this chance to help them escape. One of the games that they send was Monopoly, which contained tools for escape.

British government cooperated with the publisher of the game and hid real banknotes among the fake ones. Apart from this, they also included compasses, metal files and a folded map made of silk, as it is less likely to tear than a paper one. They plan worked, and the soldiers escaped.

‘Chutes And Ladders’ Is About Karma

The origins of this game invented in the 19th century can be found in India. Even though people play it today for entertainment purposes, there is more to it than just that. The game was initially known as Moksha Patam, and its role was to provide emphasis on the role of karma. Moksha (salvation) could be achieved by doing good things while doing evil things will result in being reborn as a lower life form.

In the original game, the squares of virtue were reliability, generosity, faith, asceticism and knowledge. In contrast, the squares of evil were vanity, disobedience, vulgarity, theft, lying, debt, rage, drunkenness, pride, greed, lust and murder.

What is also interesting is the fact that it’s very probable that the saying “back to square one” has its origin in this game.

‘Candy Land’ Was Invented In A Hospital

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world experienced the polio epidemic, with its peak in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1948, a retired teacher named Eleanor Abbott was recovering from polio in a hospital in San Diego. While staying there, she decided to create a game that could serve as a distraction for children recovering from the disease. She wanted to take their mind off of it, so the game was full of colours, fun images and required very little thinking.

As a result, Candy Land was created. The game became so popular that Abbott decided to send it to Milton Bradley, which decided to publish it a year later. Up till this day, the game is played by money, and for a lot of adults, it’s the first board game they ever played. The game is perfect for little kids who are learning how to count.

‘Operation’ started as a college assignment

Who would have thought that ‘Operation’ was originally a college assignment? Probably no one. In 1962, a sophomore industrial design student named John Spinello had the task to create a game or a toy. He created the so-called ‘magic box’ – a box that was connected to a lantern battery and a bell. When the players touched the sides of the box, they got dinged.

His godfather, who at the time worked for a toy company, convinced him to show his invention to the company’s president. The head of the company liked it so much that he offered Spinello a check for $500, which turned out to be the only money he ever got for a game that made millions of dollars. But as he said – “I’ve had so many people thank me for it. That’s my reward.”


Board games are fun – everyone knows that. But there’s more to them than just entertainment – most have fascinating backstories, and the ones listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. So next time you decide to play a board game, start by reading about it. Who knows, you might find out something astonishing.


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