History of RISK (the Game): A Brief Timeline of Its Origins!

Risk board game box (vintage) from the 1960s or 1970s
Melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Risk is a game that forms part of my family history. For as long as I can remember, Risk has been played at family gatherings, as well as social gatherings with close friends too. For as long as I can remember, this game has just always been there. 

As much as Risk is a part of my family history, I cannot help but realize that I do not know too much about the actual history of Risk. I also couldn’t help but feel that that should change. If you are also a fan of the game, but do not know too much about the roots of the game, now is the time to find out. 

A Timeline of the History of Risk:

Early 1950s:French film director, Albert Lamorisse, invented “La Conquête du Monde”.
1954:Lamorisse patented “La Conquête du Monde” on March 23, 1954.
1957:After buying the game from Lamorisse and making some modifications, Miro (a French game publisher) released “La Conquête du Monde”.
1959:After purchasing the North America rights from Miro and making more changes, Parker Brothers published the game and called it “Risk: The Continental Game”.
1986:The very first new version of Risk, called “Castle Risk”, was released; however, it didn’t have much success.
1993:The European rules of Secret Mission were added to the US version.
2001:“Risk 2210 AD” was released by Hasbro, and it was well-received.
2002:Since this year, a plethora of new Risk versions started hitting the market.
2005:A collector’s edition of Risk was released.
2008:Winning Moves released 1959 Risk.

The history of Risk was not a particularly tumultuous one, as you can see – it’s pretty straightforward and clean cut. As it turns out, since it was conceived and released, it has done quite well for itself. What was once a French game has become a game wildly popular in America and the rest of the world too! 

Close up of board pieces for Risk board game made by Hasbro
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

If you would like to learn more about each of the stages of the history of Risk, read on. I go into a bit more detail on each point below.

How the History of the Game of Risk Unfolded

The history of how Risk went from a popular French game to a world-wide much-loved family game is fairly interesting. Let us take a look below.

French film director, Albert Lamorisse, invents Risk in the early 1950s.

If you ever wondered who invented Risk and what country it comes from, here’s your answer! In the early 1950s, in France, a film director called Albert Lamorisse conceives the idea of Risk and eventually patented in 1954. Potentially, Albert’s already-fame may have spurred on its success. Albert is known for his short films; Red Balloon and White Mane. 

Albert Lamorisse did not initially call the game “Risk”. It was actually called “La Conquête du Monde”, which in English means “The Conquest of the World”. 

In 1957, Miro (a French game publisher) released “La Conquête du Monde”.

A few years later, Miro, a French game publisher, bought the copyrights of the game from Lamorisse. Miro had Jean-Rene Vernes, a game designer, improve it. After the modifications were made, Miro released “La Conquête du Monde” in 1957.

In 1959, after buying the North America rights from Miro, Parker Brothers released the game and called it “Risk: The Continental Game”.

It’s not entirely evident if Parker Brothers knew just how popular their new game would become. The game was not released exactly as it was, though. The very original version of Risk (“La Conquête du Monde”) was changed to make it more commercially suitable to the American market. Parker Brothers only made a few changes, but still, changes were made. 

Risk board game (conflict map)
Jarretera / Shutterstock.com

The company tweaked and modified the game before it was published as “Risk: The Continental Game”. That was not the name that they settled on, though. Later, they decided to officially name the game “Risk: The Game of Global Domination”.

The very first new version of Risk is released in 1986 and fails.

You might think now that it’s quite astounding how many versions of Risk currently exist. When did Risk become available in more than just its original form? As it turns out, it was a long time after its initial release. 

In 1986, about 20 years after the release of Risk, the very first new version of the game was released, and this is what started the flurry of new releases to follow in the years to come. This new release/version of Risk featured a map of 18th Century European castles in place of the traditional map, and it was called “Castle Risk”. Unfortunately, the game did not take off and was deemed a financial failure.

In 1993, the European rules of Secret Mission were added to the US version.

If you grew up playing Risk in the USA, you might not have been initially exposed to the version of Risk available in Europe. For the duration of Risk’s lifespan, different versions existed in Europe and the United States. It was only in 1993 that the game company decided to introduce Europe’s “Secret Mission Risk” rules to the US version of the game. It was a big hit and thoroughly enjoyed. 

In 2001, Risk 2210 is released by Hasbro and is a success.

Hasbro Company Game Logo
Shutterstock.com

After the failure of Castle Risk, new releases of different versions of the game were approached with slight hesitation. A division of Hasbro called Avalon Hill decided to release a new version of Risk called “Risk: 2210 AD” in 2001. The game was quite popular and featured a futuristic appeal. It included ocean and moon territories and a number of expansions on the original game. Many enjoyed the game, and this only served to spur on the game’s success. 

Since 2002, a plethora of new Risk versions started hitting the market.

It seemed as if Risk was on a good streak as the years rolled into the 2000s. Risk was here to stay, and its popularity was undeniable. The year 2002 saw the start of the release of a plethora of versions and themes, including Star Wars Risk, Transformers Risk, and Lord of the Rings Risk.

In 2005, a collector’s edition of Risk was released.

In 2005, Risk players and appreciators saw Target Stores selling a version of Risk that was deemed extra special. It was a collector’s edition of the very first version of Risk. It was in a wooden box, included the same game pieces as original Risk (wooden) and the original rules too.

In 2008, Winning Moves released 1959 Risk.

Winning Moves approached Hasbro in 2008 for a license to produce the original version of Risk. The permission and license were granted, and Winning Moves released “1959 Risk”. This was a reproduction of the original game. It included the wooden playing pieces, the original rules, and the original artwork too. 

What about the History of the Game Pieces?

But wait, that’s not all. There’s more to the history of Risk. Let’s talk about the design and game pieces. Before you can truly say you know about the history of Risk, you have to take the design and how that has changed over the years. 

Risk board game - tokens
Mitch Hutchinson / Shutterstock.com

It is interesting to note that the very first edition of Risk consisted of a playing board depicting the world map and wooden cubed playing pieces. Wooden cubes were in sets of green, blue, black, red, pink, and yellow and represented troops. Rounded triangular prisms were also of wood and depicted ten troops each. 

As the years passed, the game changed in design, and the game company managing the sales sought to cut back on costs. In the 1980s, the wooden cubes that formed the playing pieces were changed. Now Risk included playing pieces in the shape of Roman numerals. 

That was not the end of the changes in the game piece history of Risk. In 1993, the playing pieces changed, once more, to plastic molded tokens. Also to save costs. These pieces represented cavalry, artillery, and infantry. 

Another change was seen in the special edition released for the game’s 40th birthday. This was called the Anniversary Collector’s Edition and contained playing pieces that were manufactured from metal. 

In 2005 the company released the vintage collector’s edition that included the original wooden cubed game pieces. This was merely a special occasion change and not a permanent one.

Nowadays, you will most likely find Risk game packs with plastic pieces. 

Last Word

If you were interested in the history of Risk, hopefully, this has helped to clarify it for you. Risk has certainly flourished over the years, and if you are a fan of the game, like millions of others, it is time to celebrate its history and play on!