As my involvement in a hobby increases, I become more interested in (some might say a bit obsessed with) its various aspects and its history. I am fascinated by the hobby’s influences on culture and society. Gaming has been a longtime hobby of mine, but with my recent foray into freelancing, I have really desired to understand the hobby and the industry even more. I started to seek out books regarding the history and culture of gaming. In this search, I stumbled upon a revised printing of a book from the 1960s, Board And Table Games From Many Civilizations, by R.C. Bell. It delves into the history, culture, rules and design of games throughout history. The back cover describes the book very well:


Game players, toymakers, and historians of culture will welcome this guided tour of games from Egypt, Meso-America, the Orient, India, Persia, Rome, Africa, Victorian England, and many other socities.

The book organizes the game history and rules into Race Games, Peg Scoring Games, War Games, Games of Position, Mancala Games, Dice Games, Domino Games, Games of Words and Numbers, Card Games Requiring Boards, and Games of Manual Dexterity. Additional information is furnished on making boards and pieces, and on gaming-counters.

As much as the history and rules of various games attracted me, I became quite interested in the chapters on making boards, pieces, and gaming-counters. It was fascinating to read about the craftsmanship used to create quality boards and pieces for games such as backgammon, chess, dominos, and mancala. The use of inlaid wood, carved wood and stone, leather, and metal make such beautiful gaming sets. Long ago in a school shop class, I carved and stained my own backgammon/Chinese checkers board which I still have today. After my enjoyment making my custom board game box and insert, reading these chapters makes me contemplate trying my hand at some woodworking again sometime in the future.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful Appendix of Biographies about other famous authors of game-related books. I am now seeking out some of these other texts to delve even deeper into the history and culture of gaming. I have a couple books in my “To Read” pile on the history of roleplaying games that I am looking forward to digging into soon as well.

Are you fascinating by the history and culture of gaming? If so, what books on this topic have interested you the most?

On My Shelf: Board And Table Games From Many Civilizations

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