Sunday, December 13, 2009

Did Game of Life miss the bus???

I know I’m not old enough to be a fossil as yet: but sometimes when I just sit back and think about all the things happening around me- I am forced to ask myself, “Is there something terribly wrong about me that I am still searching things from the past even today???”

I have often referred to myself as someone who grew up in the era of Doordarshan, first generation to experience Internet as it expanded from being a mail service to being a virtual world of its own- but I also want to call myself from a generation which was possibly the last one which grew up to board games.

So if I learnt how to identify the dice and count with Snakes ‘n ladders, Ludo and Bingo, Monopoly (or Business as released by Speedage Games in India) was the ultimate game if handling money, building houses & hotels and seeing the other person weep when they landed on your estate was wanted. But I guess what I loved the most was ‘Game of Life’ or just “LIFE”. I guess it was the most intriguing and entertaining game I have played.

But what hurt me was a recent incident where I realized that the boards have just lost out to the screen heavily. Over a casual discussion at work, someone mentioned, “Pay day is still 3 squares away”, and we had question marks bigger than the one’s on the “Chance square” glaring back at us. Okay, so even though just a few years younger, there are three people around me who have no idea about Monopoly and Game of Life??? And it did not end there- Ludo and Checkers was at par with Latin and Chinese. What followed was an equally interesting debate as to how Ludo was played.

So it was crystal clear: board games and my endless memories around them are history…

But how did this happen??? How did the joy of sitting in the Monopoly Jail, calling it the ‘Safest place’ (Even the Underworld has realized it) and make money from others suddenly die out? How did the hours of excitement of starting from scratch, graduating, getting married, having kids (even twins sometimes), awaiting the Pay Day and retiring rich not have the charm today?

I guess what happened was Computers just changed it all. Computer games were new to my generation. Even if the 286 machines ran on DOS, I remember having played ‘Prince of Persia’ and ‘Where in the World is Carmen San Diego’ in groups with cousins and having as much fun. The difference I guess was we adapted to Computers coming into our life- children after that were born with one already in.
So if Fisher Price replaced its alpha numeric blocks and chimes with a Cool School Computer, may be Milton Bradley should wake up and smell the coffee as well. I feel it is time to revamp the Game of Life! If since 1860, the only major change has been a change in the look of the board and maximum number who can play- it is time for Operation Brainstorm. My only suggestion, take a leap further than anyone has… its LIFE; anything is possible.

I personally feel facebook is the place it should be. After the kind of fanatical following of Farmville, Fishville and Café World, I feel people have lost their sense of reality. I guess there are more happy Indians as farmers on Farmville than on any place in India. The size of my brother’s farm is a discussion topic amongst my cousins. Fishville is not affected by cyclones. I also heard my friends fight for the lone net access in the apartment to serve their customers in Café World.

So let us just get into our dreams and play the Game of Life on facebook. And I believe this can be some serious learning as well. This game has potential to replicate any situation. .. Yes ANY!!! It can help you cope with family, work stress, decision making in real life- it is can be like a simulator for life.

What’s more, it will be more than hilarious to read the news feed then. Imagine:
•Bhopoo is on his Honeymoon and urgently needs a pack of Condoms
•DevD ran out of Vodka, only No. 1 is now in stock; Oh No!!! – Maal Laya Uncle likes this
•Brady was on a vacation in Somalia and found a lonely urchin on the street and adopted him – Angie said WTF!!! One more 
•Balbir Paasha has now been awarded a Gold Ribbon from NAAC for testing negative again!!!
•Dharna Halal wants to share her very original recipe for Hyderabadi biryaani in one cup of water- Sanjeev Gafoor loves it!!!!
•Baagh Lakdi wants to thank all the girls he has visited during the days of his PGA championship- muah!!!

At the end of the day; all I hope is someone saves the board games… and I sincerely hope… Game of Life should go on…

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being the Underdog

Every human always aspires to win- we are conditioned to believe that winning is everything. We love to Win; we admire only Winners. I guess that’s so because even without moving a muscle, you got to be someone by recognizing a winner.

So what happens to the one’s who are not numero uno on D-day??? Mostly we would like to even evade a situation being on the side which didn’t win. Who wants to be termed a loser- though officially, you might be a runner up? So how does it feel to be a part of a team- say Force India; just a second off the pace of the best- but not a winner.

I have actually been on both side of the divide quite a few times. But it’s been only a few times when I went home satisfied even when I did not win. It was the realization that on that day the under dogs earned more that what the winner walked away with.

This is one such incident that is etched on my mind, most simply because when I look back, I actually realize the power under dogs possess- the power of surprise. I have since realized what just the fact that people believe in you can propel you to.

I played badminton for some year while in school. It was basically a good way my parents found to channel my extra energy which was otherwise wasted in destructive activities in and around the house. I won’t say I was an Amateur level but did good enough to win a few times in Home tournaments and move up to a few rounds in other Open and Inter-School Tournaments. It was here that I learnt the valuable lesson.

Age 12 meant fit to play Midget group. But Home tournaments gave me the chance to play across Midgets, Juniors and Men’s draws. So while the first category was to excel, the rest were to boost experience. The challenge came in one such Men’s Doubles draws, me and Santosh Shetty (age 18) were against Milind Padgaonkar (age 23) and Raghu Raman (age 30)

On paper it was the most one sided match in the draw. Santosh and I were well aware, like, most that we were practically half the game the opponents were. My game was predominantly the first 5 feet from the net. So all we had on mind was at least score 10 points in each game and enjoy as much of the game as possible. “Don’t feel bad if I miss out on a smash or you miss a drop, we are out to play our best”, Santosh- that was the best piece of advice I have ever got.

Now came the surprise element- to keep our spirits high, the organizers (No one big really, but Vijay Nair it was) managed to get all of our age group to come over and support us through the game. All of a sudden it becomes a bigger stage with cheers, whistles all going around.

The opponents won the toss, wished to serve- if all went well for them, we would probably not even get a chance to serve. The game began with Milind serving and Santosh facing; two returns and came a smash from the other side that just seemed to indicate the difference in the playing level. But the cheers went on and support was still high. Next serve, Milind to me; frankly I was nervous.

I got one that went so fast across from above my head that I only managed to make a desperate attempt to touch it. I guess it was one of the wonders of being under dogs; it took the frame, lobbed in the air and went across the net practically touching it all the way down. The crowds erupted…. I was still at loss to understand what had happened. I still am- that’s why I recall it as if it was yesterday.

I don’t know how many realized that it was not skill that broke the serve; but all of a sudden we were in the game. The next 3 serves actually put us in lead- 3:1, something no one was even ready to speculate. But that was where the dream run ended. The next serve saw the opposition rally up to 8 points on a trot, with me and Santosh having no replies to the smashes across the net. But the cheering continued.

We broke back 3 more times, saw some brilliance from Santosh. I managed a few close drop shots and living up to my task of managing the first 5 feet from the net. By the time the last point was on, we managed to score 14 points. We had set out with 10 as our moral victory.

As we shook hands and walked off the court, every “well played” was a mark of achievement. We had managed something that no one was expecting. But how did this happen, I was still the same, so was Santosh. So what happened in those 30 minutes or so that we were so proud of?

I possibly found the answer very recently I guess. It was being the under dog. No one expected any thing, everyone was supporting us and cheering us to pull off a task too big, and we managed it to a decent extent. It was just that feeling that 30 guys are behind you that possibly took the shuttle across that net, or helped us go beyond the score of 10.

What ever it was, being an under dog is not such a bad thing; just hold on to your stong points and play your game- you just don't know how many invisible hands are actually pusing your shuttle across the net.