Indoor games brought families together in the past. But, today, they don’t do much to encourage such bonding, even if they’re the multiplayer kind

“Back then, indoor games were about killing time — today, they’re about killing people,” claims an old-timer.

AD: Hi, so how did you spend New Year's Eve?

BC: It was a family reunion of sorts — we watched a movie, played some board games after ages.

AD: A quiet evening, huh?

BC: You're right. There's something about these old-fashioned games — they help bring the family together.

AD: Are you suggesting that today’s computer games split families?

BC: Well, look at all the hi-tech games — kids don't want to be disturbed when they're playing. Have you tried walking into their room when they’re halfway through a game?

AD: But there are also games which can be played against one another or as teams. Online games can involve several players at the same time.

BC: How does that help? You’re still cut off from your family and would rather play with friends and classmates.

AD: Back then, you lived in large joint families, so these games were ideal for such settings. Besides, there was very little to occupy you, especially when it was too hot or raining outside.

BC: But they just didn’t serve to kill time — they aided various forms of development. Playing Scrabble helped build your vocabulary. Games like Battleships and Monopoly helped one strategise. And games like Cluedo were all about deduction and…

AD: The games that kids love playing today are good too. They help develop character traits that are needed for today.

BC: Like what? What do kids learn from Grand Theft Auto? To shoot everyone? Or to drive like a maniac?

AD: I was referring to dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

BC: That’s funny — back in my days, building blocks and jigsaw puzzles were what came to mind when you mentioned motor skill development.

AD: Much as you dislike the fact, we have evolved. Today's kids are so exposed to everything that technology has to offer, so how can you expect them to go back to such trivial pursuits?

BC: That brings to mind Trivial Pursuit, a wonderful board game. Now, that offered general knowledge, excitement and a keen sense of competition.

AD: Well, it has Xbox and online versions too, so kids can play them now.

BC: I can imagine a family dividing itself into teams and sitting around a large board in the living room, but how can players crowd around a little monitor? It would look like they're trying to invoke the spirits on an Ouija Board.

AD: But millions have taken to these games... Tomb Raider or The Last of Us are on top of the popularity charts, so why are you having problems?

BC: Think of all the violence bloodshed and gore in these games. Most of them seem to involve the mafia, gangsters, zombies, aliens, killers, mercenaries or bounty hunters… And it takes greed and manipulative actions needed to win. They could be influenced by these traits.

AD: C'mon, you’re over-reacting.

BC: And I’m not even getting to the part where kids spend hours with theirs PSPs, mobiles and tablets and consequently risk several health disorders.

AD: So how does playing Chinese Checkers with your grandmother make you fit?

BC: The point is, today's games have become addictive, unlike the board games of my era which would make an appearance only during weekends, holidays and vacations... That left us with a lot of time for other activities.

AD: But Wii games are pretty good — they combine hours of gaming with physical activity. That's the magic of technology, see?

BC: Agreed, but the new generation is slowly abandoning the physically challenging games for their handheld mobile and PC counterparts.

AD: Looks like nothing I say is going to convince you.

BC: It’s just that I don't know where all this is leading.

AD: What do you mean?

BC: The other day, I was discussing a spiritual tour to various places of worship — and my nephew wanted to know if that was the senior citizen's version of Temple Run.

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