Last night, my little cousin refused to play hopscotch with us and was instead busy changing the password on her shiny, new iPhone. She’s 10 years old. And she had no remorse or guilt whatsoever for ditching the game that we cherished ever since we learned how to jump. The question is, can we instill in today’s generation the thrill of playing games that are not limited to video games and cartoons, Candy Crush and Temple Run? Or is it wishful thinking?


Long gone are the days when children yearned for school to end so they could run around in the playground. Long gone are also the days when little kids craved for a new football, a new skipping rope and newness in its entirety. Today, they settle for the monotony the consumerist society has to offer them. I, for one, have a vague recollection of my favorite game as a child but my memory tells me I wasn’t inclined to computers, video games or television even. I would go out with the neighborhood kids in an absolute gusto and come back, tired and wired.


Some of our most profound experience as a child relate back to the games we played. Going back in time and recollecting the memories from the past would mean speaking in plenty the glories of outdoor games. But today, the notion of “fun” for children revolves around video games, cartoons, reality shows, Facebook, smartphone applications and the list goes on. I’m slowly beginning to accept that these modern games are all that we’ve got and there’s just no turning back.


As kids, we weren’t materialistic at all and took solace in every silly game that we played with our friends and family. Be it going that extra mile to find a hiding place while playing Lukamari or running like a cheetah while playing Choidum, we were happy and hopeless in our little world. Today, there is hard to find a game that comes nearest to bearing the same kind of excitement and zeal. Video game has taken over the lives of the young generation and why wouldn’t it? Kids today probably own more video games than toys.

 

Materialism is placed before minimalism and spending has become a habit, not a necessity. No wonder games like dandi biyo, lukamari, choidum, chungi, gatta, ghwai, tug-o-war, skipping, kabbaddi, etc. have been forgotten. They have become, to put it crudely, obsolete! Chances are that the young generation hasn’t even heard of these games!


Even if the kids were to be given an incentive to play in the fields, they would discard the idea and go back to their Temple Running, Candy Crushing and Video Gaming! Maybe this is a true testimony to the fact that old games that were once so intrinsic to all of us have now have lost their charm! Even when most of them crouch on the couch all day, browse channels after channels or just laze around staring at the laptop screen waiting for a notification, this mundane activity still appeals to them more than going out, making new friends and tiring themselves out. I can never probably articulate why is it that they are simply not willing to give old games a chance? Today, kids and teenagers don’t have the imagination or the will to innovate their own games. Their dull minds just won’t let them. The farthest they will go to playing games other than video games is cricket and football and the likes of it.


Deep Rauniyar, 21, tells us that his favorite game used to be ‘Lock and Key’. “As a child, this game used to be my personal favorite. Children love running around. Anybody should be able to resonate with my feelings here.” However, now he finds himself coming back home from college and logging on to Facebook the minute he puts down his school bag. “I cannot resist it.” If not Facebook, he is seen playing basketball with friends and on days where he is low on energy, he likes to play video games. “Not Monopoly. Not Scrabbles. Not even Super Mario interests me anymore. It’s either movies or games like DotA and League of Legends that keeps me occupied,” says Deep who is currently pursuing Bachelor’s.


There’s no doubt about the fact that with maturity comes a gaming spirit. Perhaps children find it embarrassing these days to play games like Red Rover, Hopscotch, Marbles, etc. but appreciating the good old sport should never mean that you haven’t matured up. What is worrisome, in fact, is the fact that obsession towards modern games is becoming an epidemic! Not just outdoor games, even interactive and imaginative games like Monopoly, Ludo, Antakshari, Carrom and Chess seem to have lost their grip among people of this generation. Part of the reason of this unrelenting video game/laptop mania is because of the money-oriented parents! It’s the parents who want to enthrall their children by gifting them expensive video games and phone devices. For once, give them something completely random and plain. Even a box will do. Then will your children learn how to use their imagination and won’t have to fiddle with the games that already come with instructions!


While most of the blame can be shouldered on the parents and the fast-paced technology, the academic pressure children face these days is immense and quite honestly, bewildering! Children simply have no time to go out and give in all their energy to their much cherished sport. They therefore choose to settle for the less overbearing task – sit on the couch, carry a remote and fix their eyes on a flat screen. “How hard can that be, right?” they think!


Regardless of the evolution of games, kids need to be given the opportunity to feel like kids. Same with teenagers. Simply because there are gadgets to be explored in the market doesn’t make the old games quaint! These prehistoric games (as you may call it) are an essential part of everyone’s childhood and one must not be deprived of the wonders of it.