What America’s First Board Game Can Teach Us About the Aspirations of a Young Nation

“The Travellers’ Tour Through the United States” was an imitation of earlier European geography games, a genre of educational game

‘The Travellers’ Tour Through the United States’ is the earliest known board game to depict a map of North America. (Library of Congress)

AMES, Iowa— Board games are booming: In 2023 alone, the industry topped US$16.8 billion and is projected to reach $40.1 billion by 2032.

Classics like “Scrabble” are being refreshed and transformed, while newer inventions such as “Pandemic” and “Wingspan” have garnered millions of devotees.

This growing cardboard empire was on my mind when I visited the American Antiquarian Society in August 2023 to research its collection of early games.

As I sat in that archive, which houses such treasures as the 1640 Bay Psalm Book FINISH READING HERE

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