The 3M bookshelf game series was a set of classic and proprietary strategy and economic games published in the 1960s and early 1970s by 3M corporation. The games were packaged in leatherette-look large hardback book size boxes in contrast to the prevalent wide flat game boxes. The series grew to encompass almost three dozen games. Most were multi-player board games or card games; a few were trivia games or 2-handed board games. 'Acquire' and 'TwixT' were among the best known and most popular titles. The series later became part of the Avalon Hill Bookcase games. Only a few are still being published.
These games were marketed towards adults and were designed to fit onto a standard bookshelf. Each game fit into a slip cover that was made to resemble the spine of a hardcover book. 3M's catalog described them as follows: "bookcase games, packaged in attractive leather-like slipcases, make a handsome set of volumes for any bookshelf." The line consisted of republished classics such as Go, Chess and Backgammon as well as original games. The Bookshelf games were originally in large boxes (8.5"x12"x2.25"); later, a series in smaller boxes called "gamettes" was introduced (the early ones were packaged in a different shape box called a "butterbox"). 3M also published two other series of games in the same time frame: the Sports series (1966) and the Paper games series (1974). These were not in the bookshelf packaging format.
Acquire, TwixT and Sleuth were inducted into Games Magazine's Hall of Fame in the mid-1980s, though Sleuth was later dropped (1991) due to lack of current production.
In 1962, 3M commissioned game designers Alex Randolph and Sid Sackson to design the early games and they were largely responsible for shaping the direction of the line towards abstract strategy and economic games. Randolph eventually produced TwixT, Oh-Wah-Ree, Breakthru, Evade, Jati and Mad Mate. Sackson contributed Acquire, Bazaar, Monad, Executive Decision, Sleuth, and Venture. 3M thereafter relied extensively on freelance designers for the later bookshelf games. Between 400 and 600 submissions were received every year by the company. These were screened to find unique and interesting games that were connected to any recent trends or fads.
The games were produced by 3M from 1962 to 1975, under the complete company name, The Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company (this is printed in each box and on the instructions and some paper game pieces). Only a small number of the games (about 10) were significant commercial successes.
By the middle 1970s, gaming trends had shifted to pen and paper role playing games and the 3M game division was suffering losses. In 1976, the entire line was sold to Avalon Hill, which produced a competing line of bookcase games. Avalon Hill discontinued most of them, but continued to publish some until 1998, when it was sold by its parent company to Hasbro. While Acquire was mildly re-themed and published by Hasbro/Avalon Hill in 2000, the company has indicated that they have no plans to publish any of the 3M or Avalon Hill bookshelf games.
Since 2008, Acquire has been published by a Hasbro subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast. TwixT is still published by a German company under license.
A few of the games that were not acquired by Hasbro, such as Facts in Five and Executive Decision have since been published by University Games in a bookshelf format. Like the 3M series, they are designed to mimic the appearance of a large hardcover book, but instead of a slip-case, the games use a magnetic closing flap.
This theme was later echoed in the Hasbro/Parker Brothers Vintage Game Collection games circa 2005 in hardback book design wooden boxes sold through Target stores (a different set of games than those in the 3M series).
List of games
The bookshelf games series included the following games, as well as 2 unpublished games: Options and a chess variant called Mad Mate:
1. Foil and High Bid were both full size bookshelf games and gamette games.
2. if game was recognizable derivative of classic game, name of classic game is in brackets
3. games with "boards" not essential for play are classified as card games or trivia games