Miss the camaraderie you shared over board games with family and friends? Gaming apps now help you bond

Playgrounds may be fast disappearing from the city, kids maybe growing up faster than before and people may really be spending more time with their phones and computers than with each other.

So what’s happened to the good old fun and games with friends?

Thanks to social networks, smart phones and touch-screen tablets, you can now play with a friend anywhere in the world, anytime during the day or night.

With games such as Scrabble, Words with Friends (similar to Scrabble), Scramble (that requires you to pick out as many words as you can from a jumble against a ticking clock) and Draw Something gaining popularity and the apps being available on both Apple and Android platforms free of cost, social networking is no more about just letting people know what you are up to but is also about spending time together.

None of these games require you to make your move immediately. You can play at the end of the day, whenever you get a break or anytime during the week. No pressure whatsoever, no points reduced and there’s always someone or the other waiting to play with you given all those friends you have added on Facebook but have rarely got a chance to know.

If some are rediscovering the joys of drawing for Pictionary using Draw Something, many are happy playing brain-teasing word games. And in the process, reclaiming a part of their childhood and reconnecting with old friends.

“And family too,” says Aditi Sahasranamam, a marketing executive who is based in Dubai. “It’s like a long distance connection. Who says you can’t have family fun if you’re living away from each other. I also play to socialise,” she says.

That’s how it always starts and before you know it, you are shelling out money to make the apps ad-free and are tempted to buy extra features.

Like Rajkiran Marella, a management consultant from Hyderabad, who now lives in South Africa. “I mostly play Words With Friends because I get to connect with my family and friends and also meet interesting people from across the world, who share my love for words. I play all the time. I am addicted to it,” he says. Rajkiran spent $13 to remove ads and buy credits for ‘Word O Meter’ and ‘Tile Pile’. “I only play with competitive players,” he adds.

Samantha Iyer, freelance writer, moved to the U.S. but does not miss her friends much because she’s playing with them round the clock. “I am a word game addict. I wake up, play all pending games and then start my day. I play with a lot of random people too. I started a few games with friends I wasn’t in touch with very often. It’s a great way to reconnect and even better way to stay in touch,” she says.

Janardhan H. is wired to his friends through his mobile phone. “I play Words With Friends, Temple Run and Subway Surfers whenever I find time at work and home, on the way to work, during ads on TV, in the elevator, during movie intervals and even when I am on boring conference calls at work. I play Words with Friends with friends, colleagues in India and the U.S., even my boss and a friend from school who I met on Facebook after 17 years. It’s a fun way to kill time, beat stress, improve my vocabulary, and there’s a kick in beating peers. I used to miss playing Scrabble as a kid. Not anymore,” says Janardhan.

With all the games providing an option to message each other, there’s plenty of scope for trash talk, catching up and sharing a laugh. Just like old times when you used to do all this over the table.

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Sudhish KamathMay 11, 2012