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PINGPONG#2: from board games to video games

Summer ping-pong: each week, a treasure from our collections will face a work from the “icons by Susan Kare” exhibition, according to a specific theme!

 The Game of the Goose

jeu de l'oie inv 4684
The Game of the Goose, MICG collection, inv. 4684. All rights reserved.


The Game of the Goose (also known as Goose Game or its other version Snake and Ladders) is one of the oldest board games in the world. It seems it appeared at the turn of the 15th century at the Medicis’ court in Florence and quickly spreaded through Europe. But look at the centre of the board : « Jeu national de l’oie, renouvellé [sic] des Grecs » meaning « National Game of the Goose, renewed from the Greek ». Could the game come from Greece? The origins of the game are really mysterious. Somehow the game has known many versions and is still today a classic of board games. What is its secret? Simplicity of the rules, an emblematic spiral shape, and a kind of lesson throughout the game. The game can be seen as a metaphor of life with hard times represented by the Well or the Prison squares and lucky times or little help with the Goose squares allowing to double the score of the dices. In some versions – as this one – players can pay to go further and cancel the effect of a square (the Hotel for instance) to go on. The last square, 63 or the Goose’s Garden, can be associated with Paradise.  
Many versions exist, there would be more than ten thousands today! This one was printed in Orléans in 1789 or 1790 (hence the title « National », as a reference to the French Revolution, and no longer « Royal »). Many prints of this version existed, thanks to its creator Letourmy, a bookseller with a strong commercial network. However, very few copies survived until today.

Did you know? The Game of the Goose – thanks to the illustrated squares – in a way tells a story. The game gave its name to a Spanish form of literature, ancestor of comics : the Auca (goose in catalan). An auca is a story told through illustrated panels along with a small sentence in verse.

 Pong, the game

pong le jeu
Pong, the game. All rights reserved.


Although Pong was not the first video game, it was the first to know such a success! At the beginning, Pong was just a simple training project for the new engineer who had no experience in video games. Nevertheless, the game developed by Atari Inc. quickly became a global phenomenon. The idea is simple: 2 players, each of them controlling a « bat ». The goal: not being the one who would drop the ball. The more difficult levels are, quicker the ball is, and beware of the spins!

As for the Game of the Goose, Pong has been adapted in many different versions and has become a source of inspiration for other video games such as Brick Breaker.