It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan

It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan

Board games have been with us longer than even the written word. But what is it about this pastime that continues to captivate us well into the age of smartphones and instant gratification?In It’s All a Game, British journalist and renowned games expert Tristan Donovan opens the box on the incredible and often surprising history and psychology of board games. He traces the...

Title:It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1250082722
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:304 pages

It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan Reviews

  • Anna Asplund
    Mar 24, 2017

    I have to start this review with a disclaimer: I LOVE board games and I was so excited to read this book. So my thoughts might be a tad bit biased....

    That being said, I loved this book and I think I would've been quite entertained by it even if I wasn't such a tabletop game fanatic. It was well-organized, well-written, and had some fantastic stories that really heightened my appreciation of board games in general (and of a lot of the specific board games Donovan mentions). In addition to delving

    I have to start this review with a disclaimer: I LOVE board games and I was so excited to read this book. So my thoughts might be a tad bit biased....

    That being said, I loved this book and I think I would've been quite entertained by it even if I wasn't such a tabletop game fanatic. It was well-organized, well-written, and had some fantastic stories that really heightened my appreciation of board games in general (and of a lot of the specific board games Donovan mentions). In addition to delving into the history of several prominent games and the people behind them, Donovan addresses how these games influenced the societies they were part of. Often, when we hear about the histories of games, we hear how the games were influenced by the society around it, not the reverse. This was a unique and compelling way to relate these stories.

    My only real complaint is that Donovan focused too much on chess. To be fair, he did this in excellent ways - mentioning chess was often a precursor to another game, or into relating why chess changed some aspect of gaming. Also, I'm well-aware that chess is played worldwide and is one of the most enduring games ever created. I just got sick of hearing about it. By the fourth chapter that begun with talking about chess (whether it was the development of the game, tournaments, using chess as support for the idea that geniuses can be created, or teaching computers to teach chess), my first thought was

    . Donovan incorporated these tales in very seamlessly, but it still got tiring to hear again how wonderful and influential chess is.

    A word of caution: Reading this book made me want to pull out all my old games and try them again now that I have a better understanding of how they came to be. And it kind of made me want to create my own game. So if you have any interest in tabletop gaming, be aware that this book will probably awaken those feelings in you.

    Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good game.

  • Em
    Apr 04, 2017
  • Nate Morse
    Apr 28, 2017

    Fun book about the history of board games. If you are a gamer, you probably should brush up on the history of your favorite past time. This book covers the origins of Monopoly, Risk, and all those plastic board games you played as a kid (Mouse Trap, Operation). The parts I found interesting were the ancient history of board games going back to the Egyptians. There was a lot about Chess since that is an old and extremely influential game.

    Overall, good read and well written. Excellent book for an

    Fun book about the history of board games. If you are a gamer, you probably should brush up on the history of your favorite past time. This book covers the origins of Monopoly, Risk, and all those plastic board games you played as a kid (Mouse Trap, Operation). The parts I found interesting were the ancient history of board games going back to the Egyptians. There was a lot about Chess since that is an old and extremely influential game.

    Overall, good read and well written. Excellent book for anyone who enjoys games and/or history.

  • Emily
    May 09, 2017

    I thought this book would be a natural fit for me. I love board games and I love history. So, history of board games? YES PLEASE. It turns out I was right. This was a great overview of the hobby and talked about games ive never heard of before but hope to get a chance to play soon.

    This was well written and thought provoking, yet entertaining and enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Cindy Burnett
    May 08, 2017

    We like to play board games at my house so I was eager to read It’s All a Game to learn more about the creation of some of our favorite games. For the most part, the book was interesting and entertaining, and I learned a lot of fascinating facts that I have been imparting to my family and friends. My one caveat is that occasionally Donovan spends way too much time on one particular subject such as the Russian domination of chess for decades; I found that out of place in a book on the history of

    We like to play board games at my house so I was eager to read It’s All a Game to learn more about the creation of some of our favorite games. For the most part, the book was interesting and entertaining, and I learned a lot of fascinating facts that I have been imparting to my family and friends. My one caveat is that occasionally Donovan spends way too much time on one particular subject such as the Russian domination of chess for decades; I found that out of place in a book on the history of various games. I just skimmed those sections and moved on.

    The histories of games such as Clue, The Game of Life, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble are much more complicated and creative than one might think. Truly for me, it was actually a subject I had never thought about at all. Each game follows a path that seems to be a combination of ingenuity, luck, and timing, and each individual story is quite intriguing and speaks to what society valued at the time of the creation of that particular game. I was also amazed to learn that Monopoly was used to funnel escape kits to the Allied prisoners during World War 2. The cardboard base of the game had small compartments cut into the board to stash a small compass, two files and a silk map and then the playing area was glued back on. Money in the currency the prisoners would need was hidden among the Monopoly money. How cool is that?!

    I really enjoyed the section on German games, particularly The Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, because we play those a fair amount. I wish the author had included a few other popular games such as Blokus and Sequence to round out the book, but overall he covered a good list of games.

    I recommend this book for those who enjoy playing board games; I learned so many cool details that add another dimension to my enjoyment of playing those games. Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Linda
    May 07, 2017

    A fascinating look into the history of board games including classics like chess, Scrabble, Life, Clue, Mousetrap, Operation, Monopoly, and Risk, and newer games like Catan and Ticket to Ride. Some games, surprisingly, were used by the Japanese before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and by the allies to smuggle information during WWII.

  • Tudor Ciocarlie
    Jun 20, 2017

    Very little about the modern board games, but the history of the older ones was interesting and engaging.

  • Karen
    Jun 11, 2017

    My favourite nonfiction read of 2017 so far!

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