I walk down the stairs to St Albans Museum’s latest exhibition past a huge white wall decorated with illustrations of snakes and ladders and Cluedo pieces. Inside, each room is colour-coded. The exhibition is presented chronologically and shows that there has always been a universal appeal in playing board games whether for social entertainment or family bonding

In the yellow room, I learn that the oldest surviving board games come from the Middle East. Apparently Senet is often referred to as the national game of Ancient Egypt, dating from before 3000BC. I read on with interest and discover that most early board games derived from India, China and Europe and were enjoyed in the courts of kings and rulers.

I always found snakes and ladders to be quite a cruel game. It has apparently been played in India since the 13th Century and is a Hindu game with deep moral and religious significance. After making several moves and building your strength, you feel as if you’re making good progress, then suddenly you end up sliding down a huge snake and back onto a very early tile! In the original game there were more snakes than ladders, implying that it is easier to fall prey to vice than to uphold virtue.

Chess, also originating in India in around the 5th or 6th Century, also places emphasis on karma, underpinned by Hindu principles. A strategic game of warfare that is way over my head!

I step into the blue area with more modern games and this is when all the memories start flooding back. I remember my sister slamming the palm of her hand on the dome of Frustration as she was being chased.

Mousetrap, launched in 1963 as an early 3D game was part of our family life and makes me feel the most nostalgic. We used to have hours of fun with this one! It would get quite rowdy and somebody usually ended up cheating; the board is so intricate with red and yellow illustrations of the plumbing and the stairway. I remember watching the metal ball creating a chain reaction and tumbling down various contraptions.

As a youngster, I just wanted to have fun and was more interested in how games worked. I loved the fact that we were together for a couple of hours and was amused by how games brought out my family’s competitive side.

Cluedo, a murder mystery game invented in 1943, was an altogether more thoughtful experience, set within nine rooms, corridors and the secret passageways of a Tudor mansion. I enjoyed playing this when I was a little older.

The cleverly designed cards were intriguing in their complexity and the pieces and metal weapons were a great miniature shape. Mrs White’s ruddy complexion is imprinted on my mind and I remember thinking how pretty Miss Scarlett was and how she was surely innocent! I used to love confidently declaring my conclusion: “I think it was Colonel Mustard in the library using the rope.” I was very often mistaken.

I turn a corner into the red area and find my husband peering into a cabinet filled with early computer Monopoly and Pacman games and enthusing.

“Wow! Everyone had the ZX Spectrum,” he says.

As my husband is a few years younger than me, he lights up when he sees some of the early 1980s console games and tells me how slow and noisy they were to load. Classic board games were among the earliest to feature as computer games.

As I leave, I chat with the 21-year-old museum attendant and am pleased to hear that she too enjoyed playing board games with her family when she was growing up. In her teens the go-to consoles were Nintendo Gameboy and DS.

“Nowadays my generation play anonymously online and it’s connected with online social media groups via Xbox and Playstation,” she explains.

There is no doubt in my mind that games have an amazing ability to bond us either around a table or even online. A good game is both a joy and a distraction. On the way out I pass by a quote written on the wall that immediately catches my eye: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

You’re so right, George Bernard Shaw.