The History of Domino

Domino is a game where players place small square tiles — or dominoes, as they are also known — edge to edge on one another. Each tile has a value, usually indicated by the number of spots or pips on each side. If a player puts down a domino with a value that is the same as or greater than that of an adjacent tile, the latter is said to have touched it, and the chain develops a characteristic snake-line shape.

The word Domino comes from the Latin domini, meaning “heavy.” It’s an apt name for this popular game that relies on a heavy center of gravity to hold each piece in place until a tiny nudge is all it takes to set off a flurry of movement and a cascade of dominoes falling over one after the other.

While we think of domino as a small, portable and entertaining board game for two or more people, its history is actually quite complex. The first incarnation of the game was developed in the 18th century in Italy and France, but it didn’t catch on until the late 19th century. By the early 20th century, it had spread to almost every country in the world.

Dominoes are asymmetrical, and that’s an important feature that allows them to be played with one or more people. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, and the edges have a series of squares that indicate their value and a line in the middle that divides them visually into two sides, called ends. A domino has a total of six to eight pips on each end, and the sum of its pips is its rank or weight.

The physics of dominoes explains why it takes such a small amount of force to move the smallest domino from its unmoved state to its tipping point: The bottom of each piece slides against the top of the next, and as the tops slide over each other they generate friction and heat, converting some of that energy into the movement of the dominoes themselves. The result is that a small nudge of the first domino sets off a flurry of movement that can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

For writers, the idea of a domino effect is a useful way to describe any event that triggers a cascade of scenes, as well as how those scenes should relate to one another. Whether you are a pantser who writes off the cuff or uses tools like Scrivener to outline each scene, it is helpful to consider how each scene should logically connect to the one before it and to the overall plot of your novel.

Leadership is a similar concept to the domino effect. Just as a single small domino can trigger a whole row to fall, so too do leaders have the potential to make or break an entire team or organization. That’s why it’s so important for leaders to be aware of their impact and understand how the little things they do can have a big impact on others.