17 Jan 2023 admin

The History of Drinking Games: From Ancient Rome to Today

Drinking games have been a popular pastime for centuries, with roots tracing back to ancient civilizations. From ancient Rome to modern-day college dorms, people have always found creative ways to imbibe and have a good time with friends.


In this post, we’ll delve into the history of drinking games, from their origins in ancient civilizations to their present-day popularity. But first, let’s define exactly what a drinking game is. A drinking game is a type of game that involves the consumption of alcohol as a central part of the gameplay. This can take many forms, such as taking a drink whenever a certain action is performed or as punishment for losing a round. Drinking games are a great way to relax and socialize with friends, and they have been a popular pastime for centuries.


Now, on to the history of drinking games:


Ancient Civilizations:

Ancient civilizations have also had their fair share of drinking games. Evidence suggests that these games have been around for thousands of years, with many different cultures having their own unique variations. One example of this is in ancient Rome, where the popular game “Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas” was played. This game involved spelling out a phrase by tossing a wine cup and reciting a letter for each toss. If a player made a mistake or hesitated, they had to take a drink. This game was not only a way for people to have fun, but also a way to showcase their knowledge and dexterity.


Another example of ancient drinking games can be found in ancient Greece, where the game “Kottabos” was popular among the elite. This game involved flicking a small amount of wine from a cup at a target, usually a metal disk or a pot. The game was often played during banquets and was seen as a way for people to showcase their skill and accuracy.


In ancient Egypt, drinking games were also a popular pastime among the elite. The game “Senet” was a popular board game played with drinking stakes, in which players moved their pieces along a board and had to take a drink whenever they landed on certain squares. This game was not only a way for people to have fun but also had a religious and spiritual significance.


All in all, drinking games have been around for thousands of years and have been a popular pastime among different ancient civilizations. These games not only served as a way to have fun but also had a deeper cultural, religious, and educational significance. These games have evolved over time and are still enjoyed by many people today.


Middle Ages

The Middle Ages, also known as the Medieval Period, lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. This period was marked by the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance. During this time, Europe was dominated by feudalism, with lords and vassals owing allegiance to a king or emperor. The Church played a significant role in society, and the Pope was a powerful figure.


One of the most popular forms of entertainment during the Middle Ages was the game of Bagatelle. This game involved rolling balls into a shallow pit filled with pins. The aim of the game was to knock over as many pins as possible, and players took turns trying to score points. The person with the most points at the end of the game was the winner. The losers, however, were punished by having to take a drink, which was a common form of punishment during this period.


Bagatelle was a very popular game among the nobility and was often played in the great halls of castles and manors. It was also popular among the common people and could be found in taverns and inns. The game was often played during festivals and celebrations, and it was not uncommon for large sums of money to be wagered on the outcome of a game.


The game of Bagatelle was not only a form of entertainment but also a way for people to socialize and network. It was a way for the nobility to showcase their wealth and status, and for the common people to have a bit of fun and forget about their daily struggles. It also served as a way for people to improve their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.


The game of Bagatelle was a popular and beloved pastime during the Middle Ages, and it played an important role in the social and cultural life of the period. It was a way for people to socialize, network, and have fun, and it was enjoyed by people of all classes. The game has evolved over time, and it is still enjoyed today, though in a slightly different form. Nowadays, it is often played as a table-top game and it’s called billiards.


In the 18th and 19th Centuries

Drinking games became more structured and organized compared to the more informal games played in ancient civilizations. One popular game that emerged during this time was “Quarters.” This game involved trying to bounce a coin into a cup, with players taking turns and those who missed having to take a drink as punishment. This game was popular among young men and soldiers, and it required a bit of skill and precision, making it all the more challenging and exciting.


Another popular game during this era was “Fuzzy Duck,” which involved players sitting in a circle and taking turns saying “fuzzy duck” or “does he?” depending on the direction of the game. Whoever hesitated or made a mistake had to take a drink. This game was often played in pubs and taverns and was a popular way for patrons to spend their leisure time.


Alongside these games, there were also card games that involved drinking. One such game was “Kings,” where players would take turns drawing cards and following the rules associated with each card. This game required strategy and luck, and it was a popular way for people to spend their evenings.


As the century progressed, drinking games evolved further and became more complex. Games like “Ring of Fire” and “Up and Down the River” became popular among the upper classes, and they often involved a great deal of strategy and planning.


Overall, the 18th and 19th centuries saw the emergence of more structured and organized drinking games. These games were popular among different groups of people, and they required a certain level of skill and precision. They were a popular way to spend leisure time and socialize with friends and family. These games evolved over time and some of them are still popular today.


In the 20th century:

Drinking games became a staple of college culture and continue to be popular among young adults today. Games like “Kings” and “Never Have I Ever” have become household names, and these games have evolved over time to include new rules and twists. For example, “Kings” is now often played with a deck of cards that include new actions and penalties, such as “make a rule” or “make someone else drink.”


The game of beer pong also became popular in the 20th century, and it is often associated with college culture. The game involves trying to throw a ping pong ball into cups of beer arranged in a pyramid shape on a table. If a ball lands in a cup, the opposing team must drink the contents of the cup. This game is often played in large groups and it requires a certain level of skill and precision.


Another drinking game that emerged in the 20th century is “Flip Cup.” This game involves teams of players trying to flip a plastic cup by flicking it with their fingers. The game starts with the first player in each team flipping their cup, and once it is successfully flipped, the next player goes. The first team to have all their cups flipped wins the game.


As technology has advanced, drinking games have also gone digital. Nowadays, there are several drinking games apps that can be downloaded to your phone, which include a variety of games like “Kings,” “Never Have I Ever,” and “Truth or Dare.” These apps allow you to customize the rules and play with friends remotely.


Drinking games have become a staple of college culture in the 20th century and continue to be popular today. They evolved over time and new variations and hybrids are constantly being created, making it possible for everyone to find a game that suits their preferences. Drinking games are not only a way to have fun but also a great way to socialize and bond with friends.


While these are just a few examples of the long and varied history of drinking games, there are many other variations and modifications that have been played throughout the ages. From ancient Rome to modern-day college dorms, people have always found creative ways to imbibe and have a good time with friends.



In conclusion, drinking games are a fun and social way to spend an evening with friends, and they have a rich history spanning centuries and cultures. So gather some friends, grab some drinks, and get ready to explore the fascinating world of drinking games. Cheers!