Board games have been played for thousands of years by most cultures around the world. Most games included wooden boards, as wood was readily available and easy to fashion into the required shapes. Some artisans crafted elaborate boards that blurred the lines between game board and artwork. Wooden game boards have been found among the historical treasures of many civilizations.

Several of the board games popular today have existed for hundreds or even thousands of years. These games have become part of the cultural heritage of different societies. Some games have been adapted from even older games that are now obsolete. In some cases games were derived from tools used for other activities. Go and chess, for example, were thought to have originated from the boards and stones used to strategize during battles.

Chess is one of the most popular games in the world. It is derived from Shatranj, an even older game played in the Middle East during the 7th century. The current version of the game first appeared in Western Europe and Russia during the 10th century. There have been some tweaks to the rules over the last several centuries, but the basic system has not changed. Go, an ancient board game popular in Asia, has existed for over 2500 years. This game is played with stones or marbles on a checkered wooden board. It originated in China, but had spread to Korea and Japan during the 7th century. There are estimated to be over 40 million Go players worldwide, including 57 countries outside of Asia.

The earliest example of a Backgammon set dates back to 3000 BC. This set was found during an archeological dig in Iran in 2004. The board was created from ebony, which was not native to Iran. The wood was most likely imported from India, which illustrates the trade routes of the time. Experts believe that Backgammon popularity grew as Iran traded with other countries.

Cribbage is another game played around the world. The set consists of a deck of cards and a wooded board with pegs, designed for keeping score. It was allegedly invented by Sir John Suckling, an English poet as a derivative of the now defunct game Noddy. The game was favored by sailors during the height of the British Empire, as the board was small and easily stored. As with other popular games, cribbage was introduced to many countries through merchant trade routes.