Resources, Advice & Tips for Covid-19
Read More

Childrens Board Games from the 1980s

game pieces

Anyone in their 30s recalls many children's board games from the 1980s with fondness. While several of the most popular games during that era originated much earlier than the 1980s, these reigned as "king" of the board games.

Candy Land

Originally designed in San Diego in the 1940s by polio-stricken Eleanor Abbott, Candy Land has gone through at least three versions. Originally owned by Milton Bradley Company, it became a product (and later a brand) of Hasbro.

The purpose of the game is to advance around the game board of 134 spaces using the rainbow-colored cards for direction. Destinations such as Candy Cane Forest and Gumdrop Mountain are popular places to land along the way to the end. Various characters make the game interesting as well.

While extremely popular in the 1980s, the game has reached even greater sales due to new DVD versions, character revisions and additional merchandise bearing its name.

Chutes and Ladders

Among the group of popular children's board games made even more popular by kids in the '80s is Chutes and Ladders, sometimes called Snakes and Ladders. Having its roots in the 2nd century BC, many claim the game is an offshoot of another version called "Dasapada." The purpose of the game is to advance to the finish via a series of chutes and ladders taking each player's game piece through the game board.

Produced by Milton Bradley (and later by Hasbro), Chutes and Ladders pieces are moved by a spin of a dial on a 10x10 inch playing board. One interesting aspect of the game is the artwork depicted with each chute and ladder. At the ladder it shows children doing good acts and being rewarded for their actions. In a way, it can be said that the game teaches good habits to children.

The game is distributed in various countries including the United Kingdom and South Africa.


Produced for the first time in 1948 in the United Kingdom, Clue (or Cluedo in the UK) was created by Anthony E. Pratt. He was a part-time clown and solicitor's clerk in Birmingham, England. Players of the game attempt to solve a murder committed in a mansion where they are all guests. Players must unravel three aspects of the murder: the weapon, the location of the murder and who did it.

Several versions have been created and marketed, but none have been as popular as the version from the 1980s. The actual game board has featured several makeovers, but still retains the original concept of solving a murder in a mansion.

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit, distributed by Parker Brothers (and now Hasbro), created a whole new trivia craze that has yet to burn out. While not initially a children's game, various different versions were created within years that were strictly for kids. In 1984, over 20 million of these games, created by Scott Abbott, a sports editor, and Chris Haney, a photo editor, were sold in North America.

Players of the game compete against one another by answering trivia questions and subsequently rewarded with pieces of their "pie." A number of versions of Trivial Pursuit have been created, but none as popular as the original.

The Game of Life

Originally produced by Milton Bradley in 1860, the modern vision was distributed in 1960.

Again, an even more modern version was created in the 1980s with increased salaries and new dollar values to reflect inflation rates, modern vehicles and lifestyles. The goal of the game is to advance around the board, landing on various spaces which reflect real life experiences to eventually retire successfully. The most current versions include incorporating a greener lifestyle, increased salaries and college loans.


This game featured four players competing against one another to move their game pieces around the board and eventually into their "home." The unique feature that everyone remembers about this game was the "Pop-o-matic" dice container. A plastic bubble, as it may be called, held the dice and when pressed, it popped, causing the dice to change sides. Produced by Milton Bradley, this game was originally designed by the Kohner Brothers. It has been compared to Parcheesi over the years.

Children's Board Games from the 1980s
Game Number of Players Age Range
Candy Land 2 to 4 3 to 6 years
Chutes and Ladders 2 to 4 3 to 6 years
Clue 4 6 years and up
Trivial Pursuit 2 to 4 8 years and up
The Game of Life 2 8 years and up
Trouble 2 to 4 4 years and up

Children's Board Games from the 1980s Celebrated

All in all, children's board games from the 1980s were amusing and have stood the test of time. Many of these have gone through multiple variations since the '80s, but have retained their main goals and playing styles. True classics never go out of style>.

Childrens Board Games from the 1980s