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Updated: August 30, 2012 18:59 IST

The new toy story

Shilpa Nair Anand
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NOT BORED ANYMORE: There are educational and entertaining board games in the market.
NOT BORED ANYMORE: There are educational and entertaining board games in the market.

There’s a renewed interest in board games among kids. The trend, now, is weaning children away from their obsession with television and computer

Move over Spongebob, Doraemon, Dora and friends. And there is good news for parents. If your child’s addiction to television or some kind of screen (computer or videogame) has reached worrying proportions, this is reason for cheer. Cheer comes in the form of renewed interest in board games.

New games

Have you stepped into that oft ignored games section of stores? If you do, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Sharing space along with toys are board games. And the games are not limited to the staples that we grew up with – Scrabble, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders etc. It is a fascinating new world of games out there. Rummikkub, Trivial Pursuit, Uno (not strictly a board game, but hugely popular), Sixteen Fixteen, Pictionary, Chakraview (a slightly complicated series of board games designed by IITians), Scribblish, Cranium…and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Although most of the games are Indian, there is an interesting collection of imported board games by companies such as Hape and Ravensburger.

Each game is classified age-wise, which makes choice easy. Certain board games have junior versions too. This makes it easier to wean kids away from television and the video games. Sheeba Jose, a mother of a six-year-old says, “The amount of time my daughter spends staring at the television worried me. I was at my wits end. It was a trip to the toy section of a store that gave me the idea. When I saw the sheer variety of board games available it was an answer to my prayers.” She perceives a marked change in her daughter’s attitude to television. “I just need to tell Anu to get Monopoly or Scrabble and she just forgets everything about her favourite cartoon. And I get to bond with her too,” says Sheeba. Patience, a sense of fair play (which is not always exercised) and out-of-the-box thinking are the other pluses, she adds.

Shrinking spaces (for children to play) and absence of peer group to play with have also contributed to the renewed interest in board games. Dr. Deepthi Sunil, mother of two, says, “I picked up board games for my children because it is a better option than the television and more importantly where we live I cannot send my children out to play. Plus there is no peer group in our neighbourhood.” For her young son, who is three plus, jigsaw puzzles are her choice because he enjoys putting together the puzzle. That it helps in eye hand co-ordination and cognitive development is a bonus.

Develop cognitive skills

Steffin Antony, sales person at My Kingdom, says that when it comes to picking up toys for toddlers, parents are conscious about the toy’s developmental aspect. “They don’t just pick up any random toy because it looks cute. They, practically, study the toy before finally making a choice.” At Cherin Jolly too, the story is the same. “It is not just board games that parents are interested in. Even educational toys which encourage kids to experiment are popular,” says a sales person at Cherin Jolly. The other extremely popular games are science-based experiments and tools which are bound to encourage engineers in the making.

Rising sales

Reliance Timeout too has a huge collection of board games. “The sale of video games and consoles is higher than board games. But board games are extremely popular,” says Sunil Joy, manager, Reliance Timeout, Oberon Mall. He says the popular games at the store are Monopoly, Scotland Yard, Game of Game, Game of Life, Connect 4, Mind Master, Cludo, Twister and Scrabble. “Games for children in the age group of five to 12 are doing really well. We have grown ups coming in and picking up games,” he says.

“Carrom Board, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo etc are some of the games I grew up with and I wanted my daughter, Fiorella, to have that. Hence I bought the games. She enjoys them. And of course it is so much better than watching television,” says Bindu Sunny.

Says six-year old Anu, “I get bored watching TV. But games are not like that, every time is different. Plus I get to win. Always…”

Which ever way one looks at it, board games are infinitely less harmful than the other means of entertainment at hand these days. So, everybody wins.

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