The 1970s Board Games We Played: From Life To Sorry To Payday

By Sarah Norman | May 24, 2024

The Classics Date From Well Before The '70s

Step into a time machine and journey back to the 1970s, a golden era for board games that brought families and friends together around the kitchen table. From the strategic twists and turns of "The Game of Life" to the delightful frustration of "Sorry!" and the financial fun of "Payday," these games were more than just pastimes—they were a way of life. They sparked laughter, friendly competition, and countless memories that still resonate today. This gallery takes you on a nostalgic trip through the colorful, imaginative world of 1970s board games, celebrating the classics that defined a decade and continue to enchant new generations.

test article image

Classic and iconic games including Monopoly, LIFE and Sorry! still enjoy epic popularity, still today. Life is the oldest, first published in 1860 by Milton Bradley. Monopoly dates from 1903, while Sorry! was first published by Parker Brothers in 1933.

Board games typically have a goal that a player strives to achieve. Early board games represented a battle between two armies.  While later and more modern board games are a bit different, they are still based on defeating opponents in terms of counters, winning position, or an accumulation of points.

Early board games represented real-life situations that ranged from having no innate theme, like the game of Checkers, to having a specific theme and story, like Chess. Rules could range from the very simple, like in Tic-tac-toe, to games describing a universe in great detail, like Dungeons & Dragons.

Many of the latter games were role-playing games where the board is actually secondary to the game. This, however, only serves to help visualize the actual game scenario. The amount of time required to learn to play or master a game varies greatly from game to game but is not necessarily correlated with the number or complexity of rules. Games like Chess, however, have relatively simple rules, but have excessive strategic depth.


test article image
Source: reddit

Typically, games are considered to be a fun and recreational activity -- but the game of Trouble was and is more of a frustration. Trouble is a board game in which players compete to be the first send their game pieces all the way around the game board. Game pieces are moved according to the chance roll of a die. The game of Trouble was developed by the Kohner Brothers and initially manufactured by Irwin Toy Ltd., and later by Milton Bradley (now part of Hasbro). The game was released in the United States in 1965.

The most notable feature of Trouble is the iconic "Pop-O-Matic" die container. The Pop-O-Matic device is a clear plastic hemisphere containing the die, placed over a flexible sheet. Players roll the die by pressing down quickly on the bubble, which flexes the sheet and causes the die to tumble upon its rebound. The Pop-O-Matic container emits a popping sound when it is used, and, by design, prevents the die from being lost (as well as keeping players from cheating by improper rolling). It allows for quick die rolls, and players' turns can be performed in rapid succession. The die is imprinted with numbers rather than the traditional circular dots.