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Family favourites: where did they come from?


Every family has spent countless hours gathered around a board game, battling it out for supremacy and the ultimate household victory.

From Twister, to Scrabble and Monopoly to Cluedo, board games and similar activities are a staple of some of our favourite childhood experiences.

Like all things, family games have a rich and interesting history. Here are the top three board games and family activities that characterised so many childhoods, and a brief look at how they originated.

1. Bingo

Bingo isn’t strictly speaking a board game, but it is one of the most popular games of chance to sweep across multiple continents.

The game of bingo can be traced back to a lottery game called "Il Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia" played in Italy in the 1500s. As the game developed, its popularity swept across a number of European countries, including France and Germany.

Bingo also proved to be a hugely popular American game, starting its journey at travelling carnivals and fairs, and eventually developing into a hugely successful church fundraiser.

The popular game has transformed with the times, and is now just as successful on the Internet, through reputable online casinos such as

2. Twister

Twister is arguably the most physical of games, demanding flexibility, strength and a fair whack of determination.

Contestants take to the matt of green, red, yellow and blue dots, and are guided by a spinner on where to place their hands or feet next. What ensues is a mix of unlikely and precarious body shapes. This is one game that really doesn’t suit people who dislike physical contact!

Twister was submitted for patent in 1966, by Charles F. Foley and Neil Rabens. It became an instant success when actress Eva Gabor played it with Johnny Carson on television'sTonight show.

With Twister’s success came a barrage of controversy. The game’s producers were accused of selling "sex in a box", thanks to it being the first American game board that featured body parts as playing pieces.

3. Scrabble

From the flexibility of the limbs, to the flexibility of the mind, with the classic household favourite, Scrabble.

It has proven to be a favourite worldwide, and is today sold in 121 countries, with 29 different language versions and approximately 150 million sets sold.

The game’s origins can be traced back to 1938, when American architect Alfred Mosher Butts created the game as a variation on an earlier word game he invented called Lexiko.

It wasn’t until 1948 when James Brunot, one of the few fans of the word game, bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold.

He made a few adjustments to the rules and by the time Jack Straus, the owner of Macy’s, had a go playing, it was catchy enough that he demanded the mega-store stock it straight away.

The rest as they say is history.

Belfast Telegraph


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