The Origin of the Game of ACQUIRE - Part I: DECISION is renamed VACATION

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VACATION Manuscript - Page 1
VACATION Manuscript
Page 1

In an undated game manuscript, Sid Sackson wrote down the beginnings of a new game idea he called, “DECISION.” He started the manuscript by writing an introduction in the instructions:

“DECISION is something new and different in games. The rules are basically simple to learn, yet there is constant opportunity to make choices and evolve strategies.”

Little did he know that he was laying the ground work for what would become his best and most successful game idea out of the hundreds that he would produce in his lifetime.

As a child Sid was obsessed with games. His mother would purchase him a new game every week. He always wanted to improve them to make them better or just create a new game from their origins. Through the years he amassed an extremely large collection of games as he would buy games outright and also be given games to test on a very frequent basis. He would intensely study all the games he received to see if they were interesting or to determine if he could improve on, or just use, the idea.

He also ordered game patents from the Library of Congress, as a normal routine, to study games from the past. He was always looking to create new games by improving on ideas that were good ideas, but needed a little help to improve their appeal. When he became bored with the game of LOTTO, he changed it into a game he could play on his own building historical empires. That was the idea that would eventually lead to the game of ACQUIRE.

VACATION Manuscript - Page 4
VACATION Manuscript
Page 4

Sid Sackson was highly respected in the game community. In this same undated manuscript, Sid used a pencil to cross out the name of “DECISION” and rename the game idea “VACATION – The Game of Hotels.” This change was done after June 3, 1959 because that is the date that Sid submitted the idea for the game of DECISION to his gaming agent, Alice, at I-S Unlimited. DECISION was submitted to his agent on that day in June 1959 along with three other game ideas, CARRE, HIGH SPIRITS, and RED LETTER.

When Sid changed the manuscript from DECISION, he meticulously went through the entire manuscript and changed the word “companies” to “hotels,” changed the names of the companies to names of hotels, and changed the word “combines” to “chains.” He also wrote a new introduction for the game:

“VACATION is an introduction to the fabulous world of the luxury hotel, in the U.S., in the Caribbean, and throughout the exotic places of the world.”

He proceeded to draw a game board that listed a different city in the world on each of the 108 squares on the board. Sid also put a pattern of designations on the squares that range from A-1 to I-12, which is similar to the way that a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet is set up today. He grouped the cities from different continents on certain sections of the board.

In another drawing, he depicted the tiles for the corresponding squares to have the name of the city along with a picture of a hotel relating to the design of the city and the square designation. Sid was very thorough in everything he did, drawing a detailed picture on all 108 tiles. This built a symmetry that would evolve during game play as the board would begin to have the appearance of different continents as the chains grew in size.

VACATION Manuscript - Page 11
VACATION Manuscript
Page 11

Sid’s idea consisted of using seven hotel chains. Each hotel would possess different amounts of shares in their stock portfolios and 60 shares would be randomly dealt out to the players before the game started.

The manuscript reads as follows: The number on the left represents the total number of white card stocks for that hotel that will be available for purchase during game play. The number on the right designates the total number of yellow card stocks that are shuffled and distributed. This gave a total of 200 Stock Cards that included 60 being distributed before game play and 140 being left for purchase during game play. Since the players were given an equal share of the 60 distributed stock cards at the beginning of the game, they could only purchase one stock per turn during the game.

Hotel White Card Stock
Available for Purchase
Yellow Card Stock
Shuffled and Distributed
Continental 14 8 22
Wilton 16 8 24
Luxor 18 8 26
American 20 9 29
Worldwide 22 9 31
Sharedon 24 9 33
Festival 26 9 35


VACATION Manuscript - Page 12
VACATION Manuscript
Page 12

VACATION Manuscript - Page 13
VACATION Manuscript
Page 13

VACATION Manuscript - Page 14
VACATION Manuscript
Page 14