Jenga is probably one of the world’s most famous board games. Even if you cannot recognize its name right now, the chances that you haven’t seen people playing it are very slim. Jenga is known as the world’s third most popular game behind Monopoly and Scrabble. It’s reported that since it was invented, more than 80 million copies of the game had been sold. And this is only an official statistic; if we count all unofficial Jenga sets and replicas, this number will be dramatically bigger.
The classic Jenga set includes 54 wooden blocks that have to be stacked into a tower with 19 levels. It’s normally played by two or more players. Each one has to pull a block from the tower and put it on the top. It’s forbidden to take out blocks from the top 3 levels, and you can do it only with one hand. Jenga is mostly considered a game of skill, but it also includes elements of strategy and luck.
History of Jenga
Jenga was invented in the early 80s by the South African designer of British origin named Leslie Scott. Well, to be more precise, the first proto-Jenga was created by Scott’s parents, who came up with an idea to use classic wooden blocks and to stack them into a tower. When Leslie Scott grew older, she decided to develop her parents’ idea into a game that will be more exciting and challenging. Since Scott was raised in Ghana and spoke both English and Swahili, she decided to use the Swahili verb “kujenga,” which means “to build.” Later the name evolved into Jenga, which sounded more convenient for a wider audience.
Classic Jenga bricks invented by Leslie Scott were 1.5 cm tall, 7.5 cm long, and 2.5 cm wide. The inventress decided that the bricks have to be three times longer than wider, which will make it challenging but fun. As mentioned before, the classic Jenga set features 54 bricks. However, the earliest Jenga sets used to feature 48 bricks, before Leslie decided to add two more floors.
Rules and Features
Nowadays, you can find Jenga in any board game shop worldwide because the demand is always high. Still, technically, Jenga isn’t even a “true” board game, because it doesn’t feature any board or movable figures, and there’re no certain rules considering what surface should be used as a foundation for the tower. Nevertheless, unofficially it’s played on a vertical table after all the other objects are removed from the play table for the players’ convenience.
The Jenga tower is normally stored in a box assembled, and all you have to do is put it on a playing surface and remove the box. Each floor features three bricks; each next brick floor has to be assembled parallel to the neighboring floors to make the game more challenging and exciting. The blocks are normally manufactured from hardwood like birch or ash. Even though all blocks look the same at first sight, it isn’t so. Actually, Janga blocks are intentionally made slightly disproportional to add some spice to the gameplay.
The player who builds the tower is the first one who has to pull out the brick. If the game is played according to the classic Janga rules, it’s allowed to touch the tower with one hand at a time. However, it is not forbidden to touch several bricks during one move – the player can try several bricks before deciding which one to move. So you can even arrange some kind of set up for other players by destabilizing the tower. However, be careful not to ruin it by yourself! In Jenga, it’s allowed to build only the highest level of the tower if it is not finished, and it is not allowed to pull the tower blocks from the penultimate level. A player that makes the last successful move before the tower is crashed wins the round.
Educational and Recreational Benefits of Jenga
Jenga is a great game for families and children because it helps to develop eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, precision, and strategic thinking. Jenga is widely used in kindergartens and junior school for casual entertainment and development. Also, it’s a great game for any kind of party because it features easy rules, does not require any specific cognitive and bluffing skills, and can be extremely entertaining and engaging.
As one of the most popular games in the world, Jenga has many official and unofficial variations and can be played by alternative rules. Apart from this, you can find dozens of alternative Jenga variations on the market. So let’s highlight some of the most exciting ones.
Jenga Boom – the Jenga tower is placed on top of a “bomb,” which explodes at a certain moment. A player who didn’t make a move before the bomb explodes loses. You can use either a simple timer or a special platform that will collide the tower when the time is over.
Jenga with a dice – a player has to throw the dice that features 2, 3, or 6 different colors. Jenga bricks are also colored, the player has to pull the brick of the same color.
Truth or Dare Jenga – every Jenga brick features different tasks that a player has to perform once he or she moves the brick.
Casino Jenga – Jenga variation that features some elements from roulette and chips for making bets. You can find this game as an official one even in some Las Vegas casinos.
Jenga Pass Challenge – in this variation the tower features only 27 blocks and nine floors. The tower has to be held by a player, and after every move, the player passes it to the next participant.
Jenga XXL – pretty much any Jenga variation that features bigger blocks. In some cases, the blocks can be ridiculously gigantic, while the tower can reach several meters high.Jenga Xtreme – popular Jenga variation for pros, which is played with parallelogram-shaped figures.