In this week's Play This Thing's Tabletop Tuesday entry couldn't be more relevant or better timed in relation to this week's topic of discussion: apparently the bloggers there have found an example of an authored, designed, and published game from the 1680's (or rather found people who found said example). Apparently Giovanni Pare and Don Casimir Freschot are attributed to publishing and designing this game in Italy. You can find their article on the 17th century game here.
But perhaps more interestingly is there earlier discussion of A Journey Through Europe, a game where a particular publication year (1759) and author (John Jefferys) can be ascribed. At the time, the bloggers thought that it is the first "designed game" with a definite author (something that they now know isn't true due to the discovery of the above example and cribbage's invention in 1630 to Sir John Suckling) and running publication. The article on this can be found here.
Give the articles a look. It's strange that "folk games" such as Chess and Go share such a striking dissimilarity from the very first set of board games that were intentionally designed by one person. First off, there's a very literal translation from game board to map that we can see in the design, and also a rhetoric and intention to educate through play. Also reflecting on "The Mansion of Happiness" its also interesting to note that "A Journey Through Europe" is essentially "Snakes and Ladders" in terms of gameplay mechanics, as was my group's version of playing "The Mansion of Happiness". Apparently there's a strong narrative power in a piece moving forwards or back a certain number of spaces that was used pedagogically that no longer seems to exist in today's iteration of "Snakes/Chutes and Ladders"