The Oldest Games In The World

We all know that the Ancient Egyptians thought that cats were the real deal – often worshipping them and even mummifying them when they were buried. And who could blame them? What you might not have known is that while cats were ruling the roost in ancient times, the most popular games that we play today were also a part and parcel of everyday life. So, how did we get to the games, like online bingo, that we know and love?

Well, hold on to something, kitties, because we’re about to take a trip into the past to find out just where the most popular games originated and how they became what they are today!


Many people would take a guess that chess is one of the oldest games that we still play today, but in truth it’s actually relatively young. Where exactly the game was created is still a bit of a wild guess, but most historians believe it originated in India around the 6th century AD. (Mind you, other historians put their money on China as the place where it was created.)

The earliest form of the game was created during the Gupta Empire and was known as “Chaturanga” (like the yoga pose). The game was made up of four military divisions: infantry, elephantry, and cavalry. These are the game pieces that eventually evolved into the pawn, bishop, rook, and knight that we play with today. Like most ancient games, the rules changed as the game progressed and spread on a global scale. It’s believed the chess rules that we use today were formed in Europe around the 15th century.


There’s absolutely no doubt about where the popular board game of Go originated! China takes this one, for sure. Ancient Chinese legends claim that the game was started by Chinese Emperor Yao between 2356 and 2255BCE. He created the game for his son, Danzhu, to teach him about balance, discipline and concentration. The game was originally called Weiqi in China before it changed to Go as its popularity increased.

Go wasn’t restricted to China for long, and soon it spread like wildfire throughout South-East Asia. The Japanese, in particular, loved the game and it is where most of the modern changes were made to the game; it reached a relatively similar version to the game we play today around the 1670s.


Backgammon is a game that is well-known and loved all over the world, and it’s one of the oldest board games out there. The origins of the game were a bit iffy for a while, but in 2004, there was a massive archaeological breakthrough on the backgammon front. A game board was found in the ancient city of Shahr-e Sukhteh in Iran, which very much resembled an ancient backgammon board.

It’s undoubtedly the oldest one ever found and has been dated to around 3000BCE. The board was made from ebony, and the 60 markers were stunningly created from turquoise and agate. Like all ancient games, the rules for backgammon evolved over time and as it spread to other parts of the world. But the oldest version of the game that is akin to the modern-day version was known as “tabula”, and originated in the Byzantine Empire in Greece from around 480AD.


Chequers, or draughts, is easily one of the oldest board games in existence that is still widely played today. The humble origins of this game begin in the ancient city of Ur in Southern Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq. A game board very similar to our modern version of checkers was carbon dated from this region to about 3000 BCE.

As per usual, the game changed and evolved as it moved across the globe and there are now a few versions such as English draughts/American checkers and Russian draughts. Believe it or not, the first World Championship in International Draughts took place in 1885 in France.


This is the game that we’ve all been waiting for! Of course, bingo games have evolved over time, but bingo is undoubtedly one of the most prominent games to make it into modern society. However, the original game was very different from what you’ll find on today’s online bingo sites.

In the mid-1500s, the Italian lottery or "Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia”, was the in thing. Players had cards with numbered squares on them, and the numbers were pulled out of a sack. Then, the game made its way to France in the 1770s, where a young man changed the format a wee bit, and gave the cards three horizontal and nine vertical lines. While the numbers were still pulled out of a sack, this is where the first winners on a horizontal line were born.

It’s thought that the game moved to Britain and other European countries in the 1800s. A version of bingo known as “tombola” was played by troops in the First World War between 1914 and 1918 – and they brought the game home with them, where it developed into the game we know and love today.

Fast-forward to the 1900s, and the game has become wildly popular in America. Hugh J Ward was the first person in the US to create and standardise the game for commercial use in the 1920s, but the modern version of the game is very much attributed to the work of Edwin Lowe. Lowe stumbled on the game in a carnival and then took it back to New York, where he enlisted the help of a mathematician to create different winning combinations and ensure that there weren’t multiple winners per game.

The game itself was similar to the version in France, but the numbers were covered in beans and the winner shouted out “Beano!”, which was the first and closest version that we have of the “Bingo!” shout that we all know today.

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It’s always incredible to see where modern-day games originated and how they evolved. At Kitty Bingo, we have continued on the path of the bingo players that came before – so now you can play online bingo with all the modern technology and other trimmings. What’s more, we have amazing bingo offers and bingo bonuses for you to sink your claws into! Register with Kitty Bingo and enjoy our amazing array of entertaining games.

Lisa Stolmings / 17 May 2021