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Are board games dead?

Jaideep Deo Bhanj
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In Focus Have gaming devices with their life-like graphics, portability and variety spelt the end of the good old board game? Jaideep Deo Bhanj takes a look

Rapidly disappearing board gamesPhoto : K. RAMESH BABU
Rapidly disappearing board gamesPhoto : K. RAMESH BABU

Afriend who was back in the country after almost a decade recently remarked during a train journey that nothing much had changed about the Indian Railways apart from the demeanour of the passengers. Earlier, we would find people playing board games or cards and chatting with each other but today most people are constantly fiddling with their phones and playing games on devices with large touch screens. With the arrival of Android and similar software, downloading games on the phone has become simple and affordable. Games like Angry Birds created a phenomenon that had a lot of people addicted to their phones. Teenagers no longer carry games like ludo, chess, snakes and ladders on journeys anymore. They carry tablets or hand-held gaming devices to keep them busy.

Afternoons during the summer holidays were incomplete without the entire family coming together to play classic games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Pictionary. These games would help children learn to handle money, build vocabulary as well as teach them to draw. These board games have now been replaced by gaming consoles and computer games.

Games on consoles like the PlayStation or the Xbox or computer games have excellent graphics and require a lot of skill as well. They are very realistic and are definitely much more attractive than traditional board games. Using motion sensors you can play tennis or box in your living room. Games like scrabble and chess can be played online on social networking sites with friends sitting in a different city.

Prem Karnani from Mira Collections says that although a lot of people have started buying gaming consoles there is still a demand for board games. “Pricing plays a huge factor in deciding what a parent is looking for. Board games start at Rs.100 but gaming consoles cost at least Rs. 2000. There is a good demand for both and we stock both types at our store,” he says.

Samika Saincher, a teenager says that she does not like to play board games as they are ‘boring.’ She prefers to play outside with her friends and if she has to play indoors then she and her friends prefer playing on gaming devices.

Ashrita, a parent, feels that it is up to parents to decide what children play with at what age.

“Today it is shocking to see kids in class one and two using Ipads to play games. It is inevitable for children to want to play with the latest gadgets but parents need to step in and monitor them.” Children will want to play with the latest gadgets but it is up to us to introduce them to traditional games and spend time playing them, she adds.

No age limit

A visit to a toy shop can be an exciting trip for adults as well. Games like taboo and jenga don’t really have an age limit and can be fun if played only by adults. Whether it’s at kitty parties or corporate retreats playing games is a great way to break the ice. Even coffee shops have a couple of board games at the counter for those who want to have a cup at leisure. It would be a pity if games that so many generations have grown up on fade into oblivion. Technology has made our lives simpler in many ways but sometimes it’s nice to be old school and not let it take over our lives completely.

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