A guest post from Natalie K Meehan a self declared “woman of phases” explores the history of Uno and why it may be, the greatest game ever made. 

If you’ve ever been on a holiday that involved sitting in the back of a Volvo Estate with one of the windows parcel-taped up, with two week’s worth of camping equipment rammed in the boot, and a rapidly dwindling supply of Lime and Orange Tic Tacs, you’ll understand that Uno is the best game ever made. In this article I shall argue why.

Full disclosure: I am not a gamer.

I mean, I have Pokemon Go on my phone, because I have suffered endlessly for not having got into Game of Thrones and I could see a similar zeigeisty thing happening and I wanted to be involved.

I basically had pre-FOMO. I like to be able to chuck my Pokedex stats cooly into conversation, and wow people with the strength of my Chansey. Chansey is my favourite mainly because it (it’s sexless, right?) holds an egg. Why? I don’t know. But I identify with Chansey. If I could get away with carrying an egg around with me for no reason, I would.


Gaming for me, other than Pokemon Go, is generally limited to Christmas. Trivial Pursuit gets dusted off, everyone gets battered on the posh red wine we only have at Christmas, and we answer questions while dropping Pringles crumbs onto our bloated bellies.

Every other year we might branch out to a game of Monopoly, but with the rules loosened and Eastenders Christmas Special on in the background.

However. There is one game that I’m SERIOUS about. Uno.

I defy you to see the below image and not get a bit excited. The primary colours! Bold! Punchy! So pleasingly retro! The Wildcard cards! The excitement of knowing you can use them to fuck your co-players over!


Here’s the Wikipedia history of the game, because I don’t know it off by heart and I’ll be weakly plagiarising it if I try and summarise it myself:

“Robbins, a barbershop owner who enjoyed playing cards, devised the idea for UNO in 1971 and introduced his family to the game. When his family and friends began to play more and more, he spent $8,000 to have 5,000 copies of the game made.

He sold it from his barbershop at first, and local businesses began to sell it as well. Robins later sold the rights to UNO to a group of friends headed by Robert Tezak, a funeral parlor owner in Joliet, Illinois, for $50,000 plus royalties of 10 cents per game. Tezak formed International Games, Inc., to market UNO, with offices behind his funeral parlor. The games were produced by Lewis Saltzman of Saltzman Printers in Maywood, Illinois In 1992, International Games became part of the Mattel family of companies.”

Dude spent 8 grand on it! Of his own money! I feel like he kind of got shafted when he sold it to his mates. He should have held out for the big bucks. But anyhow, the game got made and has been delighting people on long car journeys ever since.

I’d like to make the argument that Uno is the best game ever for the following reasons:

  1. Pocket size. Take that shit with you everywhere. Ferries, planes, cars.
  2. Simple. Literally a carrot could play this game.
  3. Accessible. Even colourblind people can play it, by matching the numbers rather than the colours. Know the numbers 1 – 9? You’ll be fine.
  4. No language barriers. Play with colleagues from other nations who you can’t communicate with in any other way!
  5. Fun for all the family! Old people, babies, pets.
  6. Deceptively machiavellian. Yeah, it looks really child-friendly. But watch your kids’ faces drop when you whip out a Wildcard and ruin their day.
  7. Fast. This isn’t a whole-day game Monopoly vibe. You can have one quick game or twenty, depending on how free you are.
  8. Flexibility. You can play other games with Uno cards, if you’re too cheap to invest in other games.

Do you think Uno is the best game of all time? Would you like to argue with me on Twitter about it? And most importantly, do you know why Chansey is carrying an egg? Get at me @Natalie_KateM.