Maze games

Trench Football and The Silver Bullet, England, 1914 © Victoria and Albert Museum

The best known maze games are the simple ones where the aim is to guide a small ball through a maze enclosed in a box. The ball usually has to be rolled from one end to another or from the outside to the centre. This type of toy has been around since the end of the 19th century and some early examples used mercury instead of balls.

The Silver Bullet and Trench Football are larger types of this game and have the added hazard of holes along the path of the ball, which have to be avoided. These games were both made during World War I, a fact that is emphasised in their design. In Trench Football the names of German commanders, including the Kaiser Wilhelm II who is in goal, appear next to the holes. The Silver Bullet, also called the Road to Berlin, has the names of German towns.

Maze games continue to be popular and many are produced very cheaply. One of their modern incarnations is the video game, with Pacman being one of the most famous examples.




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