Mancala in 2018

Many believe that Mancala is the oldest played game in the world. However, where does it stand today?


Mancala is actually a family of games that share a common origin or play style. Mancala style games consist of over 800 names or versions from over 90 countries. Today we are going to concentrate on some of the most popular variants as reported by Google Trends.

The Google search engine recognizes Mancala, Kalah, Pallanguzhi as games, however, Oware and Omweso were only identified as keyword search terms. Please note that Bao was excluded from our research as the keyword conflicted with other topics and skewed the results.

We compared the search trends since Google started collecting data back in 2004:

Although Google is a worldwide search engine we acknowledge that some countries have other search engines and also do not have the same Internet access as the United States. Not surprisingly both Mancala and Kalah far exceed search interest over time. Another interesting trend is the apparent decline in search interest from 2004 to 2008 across all of our game name search terms.

When adjusting our scope to the last 5 years another trend emerges. Every year in December a large spike in search interest occurs. This trend could very well be in-line with the seasonal holiday sales of board games:

Overall, Mancala based search term interest has declined. Perhaps the game has become less popular in e-commerce or only periodically trends. Either way, Mancala, and its variants will always be played and enjoyed by millions.
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