Jenga was officially released in 1984 as a standardized game, but it’s been in the collective psyche since way back in the day.
It's one of the most simple games there is – it involves wooden bricks, and wooden bricks only. It’s like some of the first games you played as a child – tower building. But it’s captures the imagination from anyone aged 3 – 103, and from any backgrounds, city to tribal.
In fact even the name sounds tribal. Try chanting “Jenga! Jenga! Jenga!” and you’ll see!
The premise of the game is simple. You start with 54 rectangular wooden blocks placed in rows of 3’s on top of each other in opposing directions - making a corporate looking tower. Then each player has to slide out a brick from near the bottom of the tower and place it on the top.
Slowly the structural integrity crumbles and somebody's shaky hand gives them away.
Jenga was created by Leslie Scott – a UK national living in Ghana - after a game from her family home using children's wood building blocks the family got from a sawmill in Takoradi, Ghana.
Robert Grebler - one of the games founders - claims to have built the tallest Jenga tower ever at 40 2/3 levels. Grebler built that tower in 1985 while playing with an original Jenga set produced by Leslie Scott in early 1980 - But Norris McWhirter wasn’t there so it’s not official.
Over 50 million Jenga games, equivalent to more than 2.7 billion Jenga blocks, have been sold worldwide. Think of all the trees that have been felled, just to fall over and over again as Jenga bricks!
In addition, there have been a number of collector edition Jenga games, featuring the colors and logos of the American football and baseball teams, there’s been “Hello Kitty” Jenga, Transformers Jenga, Tarzan Jenga, Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas Jenga, and Donkey Kong Jenga are some of the licensed variations of Jenga.
It really became a worldwide franchise! Believe it or not they even made it into a computer game! Jenga World Tour for Nintendo Wii, and DS was released by Atari on December 7, 2007. And - a new version of the Jenga game for the Nintendo Wii is available from Electronic Arts as part of Hasbro's Family Game Night 2 offering.