While the game of bingo as played all over the world in different countries has a number of obvious similarities, there are some slight differences depending on geographical location. In the United States for example, the version of the game that is most often played is the 75-ball variety. This form of bingo is played with a 5x5 bingo card, the centre square of which is 'free'.
The object of the game as played in the United States is to form a pattern that is designated before the game. There are quite a few patterns required depending on the bingo game, and these can range from simple single lines to quite intricate patterns. In any case, the goal of the game is always to be the first player to cross off the numbers that form the pattern. There is another variation of the game commonly played in the United States called 'Speed Bingo', wherein the game play proceeds pretty much the same way as in the other variations, albeit at a much faster pace.
Beyond the use of bingo for entertainment purposes, it actually serves a more lofty function in the United States. Not many people are familiar with this usage, but bingo is actually used as an educational aid in quite a few primary schools in the country, and it has even found additional use as an aid in teaching English to residents from other countries that wish to learn the language. When used in this manner, the usual bingo numbers are switched out in favor of basic words in the English language. The Dolch word lists are typically used as a source of these educational words. In some cases, pictures or math problems are also included, providing more opportunities for learning. In previous years, the use of computer software to produce bingo cards has come into increasing usage, greatly speeding up the process and making it easier to produce bingo cards in large numbers.
The Origins of Bingo in the U.S.
While accounts vary as to the exact origin of the game, what is known for sure is that an early version of the game was played as early as 1929 in a carnival in Atlanta. This version was then known as "Beano", owing to the dried beans that were used in the game play. Along with these beans, Beano also used a rubber stamp and cardboard sheets, which were precursors to the pen and paper bingo cards that are commonly in use today. It was a man named Edwin Lowe who is credited with bringing the game to other parts of the country. Upon noticing how well the public took to the game, Lowe was sufficiently inspired to bring the game to New York, where his friends were just as excited about it as the Atlanta carnival crowds. As for how the game came to be known as "Bingo", the story goes that one player mistakenly called out that word instead of "Beano!" and the name 'Bingo' came into popular usage.