Game on!

Saturday, April 5, is International Table Top Day. This is the day where the whole world is brought together to play board games and have fun. Last year, 3,123 gaming events were held worldwide. Every state and province in the United States and Canada were represented, and there were registered game events on every continent (including scientists at the South Pole!).

A number of WPL branches are hosting events that day, and the West Kildonan branch is hosting a special board game day for tweens (ages 9-12) the week before on March 29 from 2-4. You can call 204-986-4389 to register for that one.

So, to get you all ready for a day of board games with friends, let’s take a look at some of the board game related resources we have for you at the library.

First: a little bit of history.

games we played

The games we played : the golden age of board & table games is filled with examples taken from the Liman Collection of board games as part of the New York Historical Society Museum and Library. This is a collection of over 500 games that were popular between the 1840s and 1920s. It is an interesting look into what passed for leisure activity for middle-class Americans from the middle of the 19th century to the earlier part of the 20th century. The Oxford history of board games is an additional source of information on the pioneers of Monopoly and Scrabble.

Speaking of Monopoly, check out the following resources.

You may find it difficult to believe that somebody actually produced a feature-length documentary on a board game and its cultural impact, but that’s exactly what Under the boardwalk : the Monopoly story is. To say any more would be unnecessary.


Phillip Orbanes’ Monopoly : the world’s most famous game–and how it got that way looks at the phenomenon which is Monopoly. First sold in 1935 by Parker Brothers at the height of the Great Depression, the game is still available in 60 countries worldwide, with countless variations. I know myself I prefer the “Star Wars” Monopoly edition that I first purchased back in 1997 to coincide with the release of the Special Editions of the original trilogy. The well-known properties are replaced by planets, the railroads are replaced by starships, and the Chance and Community Chest cards are replaced by Rebel and Imperial cards, naturally. It’s pretty amazing! (I’ll stop geeking out now. Back to the rest of this blog post).

Who's up fpr a little Star Wars Monopoly?

Who’s up for a little Star Wars Monopoly?

In addition to Monopoly, another game that has had a huge impact on our culture is Scrabble. Scrabble has also seen a resurgence in popularity due to the ease at which it has been adapted to mobile devices. Now you can have Scrabble games that last days if not weeks with friends in different parts of the world. Still, there’s nothing quite like sitting down at a table with your rack of tiles pulled from a little bag and meeting your opponent face to face.


Word freak : heartbreak, triumph, genius, and obsession in the world of competitive scrabble play, by Stefan Fatsis, takes an investigative journalist’s approach to the colourful characters that make up the world of competitive Scrabble tournaments and also tells the story of how this game was invented.


Letterati : an unauthorized look at Scrabble® and the people who play it, by Paul McCarthy, covers similar ground as Fatsis’ book.  However, McCarthy goes into much more detail as to the politics behind which words get included in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, how age and gender affect gameplay, and how the carefully guarded Scrabble trademark has limited the number of Scrabble tournaments and created an elite class of professional Scrabble players.


David Bukszpan (with a last name like that, he was born to write a book about Scrabble tiles!) has written a short guide to help not only Scrabble players, but also other word games like Bananagrams and Words with Friends. Is that a word? : from AA to ZZZ, the weird and wonderful language of Scrabble is part strategy guide and part celebration of all things wordy.

And we couldn’t talk about Scrabble without linking to Richard Condie’s 1985 animated classic short, The Big Snit. Happy International Tabletop Day, everybody!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s