29th Jan2018

The Evolution of Snakes and Ladders

by James Smith


Make your way to the end of the board by rolling the die, hoping that a snake is not waiting to bite you around the corner. Snakes and Ladders is a worldwide classic board game which is enjoyed as an indoor game by people of varied ages. Initially, this game was created to teach people about morals where it originated from. So, where exactly does this ever-popular game come from?

Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game that is played between two or more players. The board consists of gridded squares that are numbered from 1 through 100. The aim of the game is to move your game piece accordingly to the outcomes of the die until you get to the last square on top of the board. This game is a pure race of luck and chance.

The historical version of Snakes and Ladders rooted to morality lessons where the players progress on the game board represented a complex life journey where they face vices, represented by snakes and virtues, represented by ladders. The game was popular in Ancient India and went by the name “Moksha Patam” which contrasted Hindu philosophy of karma, destiny and desire.

When the game was taken to England, Indian virtues and vices were replaced by English ones. Ladders represented fulfilment, success and grace, whereas, snakes represented disobedience, indulgence and indolence.

While the Indian version of the game had snakes outnumber ladders, the English version had all of them equal. In addition to learning morals of life from the game, it also allows children to sharpen basic mathematical skills with twists of addition and subtraction added.

  • In Canada, the game is sold as “Snakes and Ladders” and is produced in different versions by the Canada Games Company. For example, there is a version that consists of toboggans instead of snakes.
  • In England, the most popular version of the game is Spear’s Games’ edition, that is played on a 10×10 board and a single die is used.
  • In the United States, the most common version of the game is Chutes and Ladders, released by Milton Bradley in 1943. The playground setting replaces snakes and instead of using a die, spinners are used.

Since then, the board game has evolved into different designs, themes and sizes. Now you have various designs like 3D, vintage editions, magnetic sets, folding versions and outdoor designs. Themes vary from figures, architectures, flora, fauna and more. Since the theme is so popular, many downloadable versions can be downloaded onto your computer or mobile at any time. You could also play snakes and ladders slot or pull-tab games at Lucky Pants Bingo! These are one of the most popular variations of the popular board game and can be played via mobile, desktop or tablet.

The popular saying “back to square one” originates from the game of snakes and ladders, or was at least influenced by it. The game continues to demonstrate its value as an educational tool and understanding in concepts and sequences.

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