Once upon a time, there lived a king Yudhishtira, who foolishly lost his entire kingdom, brothers, and even his wife to his opponent Duryodhana in a game of dice. Thankfully, modern games do not take away families and all things dear from the loser!
Games have always been a vital part of man’s existence since ages. Gaming has its roots in philosophy even. It is said that the classic Snake and Ladder board game is steeped in morality lessons, where a player's progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes), emphasizing the role of fate or karma. Today of course, there are “angry birds” that croak violently as you shoot them in a sling-shot at some structure. Discerning what they mean though is quite a puzzle. Of course, it is bound to be puzzling when there are so many layers of electronic clothing on your mobile phone and the only points of contact are thumbs and perhaps bulging dry eyeballs almost glued to the screen!
When we trace the developments of modern gaming in India, over the last two decades, we may find it rather interesting. From “superpower” trinkets that came in packaged foods, to videogames that had faulty game cartridges, to palmtops that had pinpoints which needed rarely available adapter plugs, right until the personal computer CDs that got stuck even as you played it, all the way to monstrously huge and engaging gaming machines, it has been a mocktail of fun, silly, lame, and great games of all times.
This was the era of tazoos, Beyblades, and Uno cards. It was a common sight to see kids flashing Beyblade bands and spin tops at each other as if they had all the power in the world. Not to mention the eye-fights they had while eyeing the others tazoo collection, irrespective of the fact that it did nothing. Uno on the other hand, was a cards game of colours and numbers, which had cousins, aunts, and uncles happily rivaling each other at a family get-together.
It was the age of a tiny plumber, Mario, who voyaged the sewers of New York city in a quest to save his beloved princess, in a “video game”. Although, kids were quite unaware of the origin of this tiny man they egged on, through their joysticks, to consume mushroom saying, “Grow, Mario! Grow!” There were several other videogames like Contra, F1-Race, Olympics, and the likes, but none of them was as big a rage as Mario.
But before the television-enabled videogames made their way into the market, hand-held game consoles sold like hot cakes, even though they contained only a game or two, the Snake Game being the most popular one.
Even as television-enabled videogame console desperately tried to cling-on to the market, a smarter cousin of the handheld game console, Nintendo, made its way. To top it, several games in this gadget were “educational” of sorts and gave parents a reason to buy it for their kids. Needless to say, Mario made his way into this gadget too and gave kids a chance to feed him mushrooms, while their parents were looking the other way.
It was around the same time that PC games like Prince, Doom, Lion King, and Aladdin became the hot favourites with most kids.
Suddenly, adults and kids alike were keen on shooting zombies! Gaming gained an altogether new dimension in the country when PlayStation and Xbox entered the market. Suddenly, gaming consoles were no longer idiot boxes that got kids hooked; they were a must-have asset in every upper middle class household. Assassin’s Creed was (and still is) perhaps the most popular game on all sorts of gaming consoles, and remains unrivalled despite several other similar games.
Smartly dressed young professionals were commonly seen flaunting their “smartphone” as they “played” their way to and back from offices.
With a sudden outburst of widescreen phones and tablets from all sorts of leading companies, left, right, and centre, several high graphic games were introduced as game apps. Taking the lead in the trail were (and still are) Angry Birds and Temple Run. The so-called modern games have certainly accomplished the feat of getting even adults hooked onto them, if nothing else.
It is perhaps that “Angry Birds” are just “angry employees”, croaking and cawing indignantly, pelting themselves at corporate “structures”. A “modern meditation in the making”, perhaps.
There’s an “Angry Birds Yoga”, apparently. Seriously.