The history of tabletop or board games dates back into antiquity. Board games have been played, travelled and evolved in most cultures and societies throughout history: Senet was a board game played in Ancient Egypt from around 3,500 BC, Backgammon was popular in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago, as was the Royal Game of Ur. Chess is believed to originate in India in the Gupta Empire (c. 280–550 AD), the several Mesoamerican cultures played a strategy and luck game known as Patolli from 200 BC on.
The oldest records of board gaming in Europe date back to Homer's Iliad (written in the 8th century BC), but Norse cultures and ancient Ireland mention games as well.
In her book ‘The Games We Played’, Margaret Hofer, associate curator of decorative arts at the New-York-Historical-Society, described the period of the 1880s–1920s as ‘The Golden Age’ of board gaming in America. Mass production of games made them cheaper and more easily available, and the industry boosted. Pioneering mass publishers were the Milton Bradley Company (est. 1860) and the Parker Brothers (founded in 1883, they published immensely popular games like Monopoly (1935), Cluedo (1949) and Risk (1959)).
In the early 20th century, board game design began to emphasize amusement over education, which made simpler race games such as Ludo (originally called Mensch, ärgere dich nicht, 1914 in German) grow increasingly popular, as did word/letter games like Anagrams (MB, 1920s) and Scrabble (1938).