Why Is the Game Called Marco Polo?

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The game Marco Polo was inspired by the travels of the real life Marco Polo. Marco Polo was an explorer who traveled the Silk Road.

The exact origin of the game is uncertain, but, according to the Smithsonian Institution, it almost certainly comes from the travels of Marco Polo. The explorer and his family were Venetian jewel merchants. In the thirteenth century, Polo, a teenager, joined his father and uncle on an expedition along the Silk Road from Italy to China. The expedition gained notoriety because it was unusual for merchants to travel the entire length of the route themselves; they usually hired middlemen. There is debate among scholars about precisely which areas the Polo family visited. Some do not believe they even reached China, as Polo recorded few facts about the country in the book he later wrote about his adventures. However, the Marco Polo legend persists, and he is widely considered to be one of the first Westerners to visit China.

His story inspired the pool game Marco Polo, in which a player tagged “it” closes his or her eyes and shouts “Marco.” The other players respond with “Polo,” and the player who is “it” has to find them by following the sounds of their voices. Some people believe the name of the game comes from the fact that when Marco Polo set out on his travels, he did not know where he was going, just like the player who ventures into the pool with closed eyes.