The 1970s Board Games We Played: From Life To Sorry To Payday

By | May 8, 2018

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Gene Hackman in the game closet of the Tenenbaum home in 'The Royal Tenenbaums.' How many of these do you recognize? Source: reddit

Kids have always loved games -- but games used to mean something different! We're talking about board games, which ruled kids' and family leisure time in the 1970s. Board games might not be as popular now, in the age of video games, but back in the day they were a way for families to spend time together. Imagine that! When it came to '70s board games, rivalries could be fierce -- one day you're sending your buddy all the way home with a sarcastic "Sorry!," but the next day you're the one wailing "You sank my battleship!"

The Classics Date From Well Before The '70s

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Classic and iconic games including Monopoly, LIFE and Sorry! still enjoy epic popularity, still today. Life is the oldest, first published in 1860 by Milton Bradley. Monopoly dates from 1903, while Sorry! was first published by Parker Brothers in 1933.

Board games typically have a goal that a player strives to achieve. Early board games represented a battle between two armies.  While later and more modern board games are a bit different, they are still based on defeating opponents in terms of counters, winning position, or an accumulation of points.

Early board games represented real-life situations that ranged from having no innate theme, like the game of Checkers, to having a specific theme and story, like Chess. Rules could range from the very simple, like in Tic-tac-toe, to games describing a universe in great detail, like Dungeons & Dragons.

Many of the latter games were role-playing games where the board is actually secondary to the game. This, however, only serves to help visualize the actual game scenario. The amount of time required to learn to play or master a game varies greatly from game to game but is not necessarily correlated with the number or complexity of rules. Games like Chess, however, have relatively simple rules, but have excessive strategic depth.