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The serious side of historical games

Mind-extending brain teasers, puzzles and games have long been used to entertain and educate, and fun has often masked underlying moral or public health messages. Julia Nurse examines examples, from simple race games that led players through a virtuous or vice-laden maze to dangerous gaming manoeuvres used as warnings about contemporary health issues.

Words by Julia Nurse

  • In pictures

About the author

Black and white photograph of Julia Nurse, a white woman with brown hair, smiling. She wears an animal-print dress and the corners of paintings are visible in the background.

Julia Nurse


Julia is a collections research specialist at Wellcome Collection with a background in Art History and Museum Studies. She currently runs the Exploring Research programme, and has a particular interest in the medieval and early modern periods, especially the interaction of medicine, science and art within print culture.