Day: September 20, 2020

Games blamed for moral decline and addiction throughout history

<span class="caption">Did ancient Egyptian parents worry their kids might get addicted to this game, called senet?</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SenetBoard-InscribedWithNameOfAmunhotepIII_BrooklynMuseum.png" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons">Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CC BY-SA">CC BY-SA</a></span>
Did ancient Egyptian parents worry their kids might get addicted to this game, called senet? Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Video games are often blamed for unemployment, violence in society and addiction – including by partisan politicians raising moral concerns.

Blaming video games for social or moral decline might feel like something new. But fears about the effects of recreational games on society as a whole are centuries old. History shows a cycle of apprehension and acceptance about games that is very like events of modern times.

From ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, historians know that the oldest examples of board games trace back to the game of senet around 3100 B.C.

One of the earliest known written descriptions of games dates from the fifth century B.C. The Dialogues of the Buddha, purport to record the actual words of the Buddha himself. In them, he is reported

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