The most common game-play set up, used in board games even today, comes from an Italian game known as Goose, which originated in the late 1500s. This game, popular all over Europe in the 1600s, depends on luck instead of skill. The players race around a track divided up into 63 sections, and players spin a wheel or roll dice to move a certain number of spaces—the goal is to get to the end first. Some sections are labeled with instructions to move forward or backward, while landing on a “goose” section gives the player another roll or spin.
Most versions of Goose and its spinoffs feature “vice” and “virtue” sections. If a player lands on a sin, like a picture of a sleeping man indicating sloth, he has to move backward. A picture of men shaking hands depicts an act of civility, allowing the player to move ahead.
The first American board game was made in 1843 by the W. & S. B. Ives Company of Salem, Massachusetts. It was another take on Goose called Mansion of Happiness, wherein the players would be punished for landing on “sinful” squares and rewarded for landing on “righteous” ones. The winner of the game, which was invented by a clergyman’s daughter, would be awarded the status of the most virtuous. This is the ancestor to every American board game produced, including Monopoly.