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American POP Presents: Top 10 Board Games

Nothing defines “quality family time” greater than these words: board games. We know at least someone in your family has an unnecessary stack of them in a closet or proudly on display in a book case where there are more games than books. And yes, we know your family member stole that Monopoly money from you years ago...we just know it. 

Ah, the board game. The classic family activity that pits family members against each other and creates memories and grudges for a lifetime. There’s no doubt about it, the board game is an American pop-culture tradition, and in the American POP exhibit, you’re sure to see one or two that take you way back to your youth...or just back to the last family holiday. If you’re heading to Gen Con, The Children’s Museum's extensive collection of nearly 300 tabletop games may very well inspire you. Here’s just 10 of our favorites: 

#1: The Game of Life

What better way to start the list than a game we play every day? The Game of Life is a National Toy Hall of Fame-er. It allows for two to six players to ride their way through life from college to retirement, trying to succeed with riches—but with insurance and risky investments, the struggle can feel REAL. 

Milton Bradley
1960

#2: Checkers

King me! Minimalism in board games is at its finest and most strategic with games like chess and checkers. In England, Checkers is known as “Draughts.” Take 12 pieces, move diagonally forward, and jump over your opponent’s pieces until they’re entirely eliminated. Seems easy enough, but involves foresight and strategy! 

#3: Battlestar Galactica

Before the release of the hit Battlestar Galactica role playing game at Gen Con ‘07, there was this Parker Brothers take on the franchise. “Pew! Pew! Pew!” You’ll have to make the sound effects yourself, but it’s all part of the fun. Can you capture a disabled Cylon Raider and bring it back to base?

 

Parker Brothers

#4: Candy Land Game

Last one through Candy Cane Forest and over Gumdrop Mountain is the ULTIMATE SLOW POKE. If you hate math, you’ll love Candy Land—there’s no counting, just color correlating. If you’re color blind, you probably won’t love it—sorry. 

       

Milton Bradley
1955-1970

#5: Homemade “Monopoly” board game

A different take on Monopoly—we have this homemade version. The maker of this unique "Monopoly" made some changes to the Parker Brothers version...several squares mention sightseeing and vacation activities like fishing.

Monopoly was invented during the Great Depression. When the first games were sold by Parker Brothers in 1935 onwards, many Americans were enduring financial hardships. Foreclosures, bankruptcy, and evictions were harsh yet common events that many experienced. Under these conditions, a fantasy world where you could be a real estate magnet or a robber baron became very popular. 

1930-1950 

#6: Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Adventure Game

A diversion from the traditional tabletop, as there is no board, but a classic amongst role-playing games. This Dungeons and Dragons game takes you through the classic dungeon crawl. Gather around, Gen Con-ers, for some 12-sided-die rollin’.  

T.S.R. Hobbies
1981

#7: Clue game

Who killed Mr. Boddy? Professor Plum, in the ballroom, with the candlestick! This classic mystery game pits 3-6 detectives (players) against each other to solve a murder mystery the fastest. The game originated as “Cluedo” in the U.K. in 1949, but was manufactured by Hasbro in the U.S. as we know it today. 

Parker Brothers
1949-1950

#8: Pokemon Master Trainer board game

No augmented reality in this one, so put down the phone, and walk at a normal pace. Begin the game with a starter Pokemon like Pikachu, Charmander, or Bulbasaur,  then catch ‘em all. Make it to Indigo Plateau where you’ll challenge the current, reigning Pokemon Champion.

Nintendo Playing Card Co.
1998

#9: Star Wars Trivial Pursuit board game

Based on the original Star Wars movies, you’re not a true superfan until you know these cards like the back of your hand. Can you name the homeworld of the Wookie race? (It’s not “Wookieland.” That was my guess.)  And what was the original title for Return of the Jedi? This is just one piece of The Children’s Museum’s massive 5,000-piece Star Wars collection. 

Parker Brothers and Lucasfilm, Ltd.
1997

#10: Harry Potter Diagon Alley board game

Fill your wizard’s trunk with potions, books, wands, and more, and get back to The Leaky Cauldron for some butterbeer before supplies run out and you’re the Neville Longbottom of the group. Eek! 

Mattel, Inc.
2001

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Categories: Collections, Exhibits
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