Despite a digital world full of smart phones, short attention spans, and instant gratification, board games still captivate us. Maybe it’s because they bring people together to share in something fun, or it could be how they help us activate our brains, helping develop sharper cognitive skills. In It’s All a Game, British author and journalist Tristan Donovan explores the history, psychology, and evolution of board games across the continents. For example, Donovan uses chess to explore centuries of world history; he uses the Game of Life to discuss the development of U.S society; and he introduces readers to the genius behind Operation and Mouse Trap, two games that took board games into the plastic age. Just like the board games discussed, It’s All a Game is an entertaining read.
During the midst of the Great Depression, an unemployed Pennsylvanian named Charles Darrow sold his board game Monopoly to Parker Brothers, becoming the first millionaire game designer in history. If this story sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Mary Pilon, an award-winning reporter for The New York Times, delves into the true story behind one of the world’s most iconic games. Much of The Monoplists focuses on Ralph Anspach, the inventor of Anti-Monopoly, and his antitrust lawsuit against Parker Brothers in 1974 which proves that Monopoly was in the public domain prior to Darrow’s re-appropriation of it. Learn more about Lizzie Magie, the inventor of Landlord’s Game, a game that promoted morals and good will rather than corporate greed and cut throat tactics. Pilon even goes further back than that, reexamining Abraham Lincoln and the Quakers’ roles in the all-American board game. Part social history and part mystery, The Monopolists is definitely an amusing read for board game enthusiasts.
Have you played Dungeons & Dragons before? (If you haven’t, we’re sure you know someone who has.) Dungeons & Dragons is a world famous fantasy role-playing game that was first published in 1974; it has millions of fans and players around the globe and is the core of numerous nerd subcultures. Part journalist and part D&D player, author David Ewalt provides and authoritative history about the lure and lore of the game that many of its biggest fans may not even know in Of Dice and Men. (For example, Dungeons & Dragons was created in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.) Part journalism, narrative, and memoir, Ewalt explores the game’s roots on the ancient European battlefields, the hysteria of satanic rituals and teen suicides associated with the game, and how the modern-day video game industry has impacted Dungeons & Dragons. Of Dice and Men captures the essence of table-top gaming in an engaging, well-written expose for fans and non-fans alike.