CHENNAI: Navratri saw nine days of people trying to revive traditions. A different kind of tradition has also been seeing a slow death, after the flooding of apps, playstations and PC games — games that merely needed chalk, shells, stones and seeds, no electricity, wi-fi or high resolution graphics. But these too are coming back, albeit in a niche and expensive manner.
The ‘ethnic’ revival wave has spread and some traditional games like aadu puli aatam and pallankuzhi now have aesthetically designed avatars. One of the popular brands is Kreeda, which sells traditionally designed cardboard boxes with Kattam Vilayattu, Gilli Danda and Chaupad. Kreeda markets its products well online and a click from home can get you these games, which of course cost more than the shells and cloth of the old days. A few theme restaurants too, like the ‘Zha cafe’ in Porur, integrate old games into the decor.
Some parents feel that these games are not ‘out’ yet. “Board games are still being played, it is just that they get a more western avatar. Hide-and-seek is now called peek-a-boo, and pandi is hopscotch,” says Priya B, a mother of a two-year-old boy. “Children who grow up with grandparents in the house learn many old games. Technology has not taken over completely,” she says.
Some outdoor games too have caught on, especially because of the Asian Games season, which has kabbadi. “But these games are seasonal and usually the kids play football and cricket. Indoor games like Monopoly are still popular, but there is no denying that technology now plays a huge role in kids’ games,” says Vidhya, a mother of two boys.
Another interesting reverse trend is that of digital games getting physical avatars, and games like Angry Birds and Talking Tom can be bought as toys with high price tags to give them a chance to get an actual feel of the game.
Some of these games are now appearing in ‘iPad’ avatars, like Vimanam Lite, the cowrie shells now replaced by multi-player interfaces. But most children remain glued to more ‘happening’ games, the virtual world that is much more exciting than eight shells in a hollow wooden box.