Board Games in Academia V
Games to Cure a Depression
With the collapse of the stock market in the United States in 1929
came the Great Depression. Businesses failed, and unemployed workers waited
on bread lines for food. Two commercial diversions remained within reach
because of the low costs involved: going to movies and buying games. Jig-saw
puzzles became popular. Backgammon was revived. Table golf games thrived,
owing to the new popularity of miniature golf. "NRA" and "TVA" became
initials on some gameboards as The National Recovery Administration and the
Tennessee Valley Authority tried to fight the economic inertia. The Century
of Progress, a 1933 international exposition, hinted at economic recovery
and offered a new theme for game manufacturers.
The Depression wasn't felt by the game industry until around 1932.
Games of high finance became popular, and, in 1934, Parker Bros. brokered a
deal to produce a folk game called "Monopoly". Recovery during 1936 and 1937
As the U.S. kept a close watch on a Europe readying itself for war,
new game companies emerged and others changed from selling different
products to producing games.
This presentation is designed to examine the effect of the
Depression on the development, manufacturing, and playing of American board
games during the 1930s.