It’s not long back when children would prefer going out and form groups to play games which were officially not recognized to any course curriculum, but were best recreational activities in the neighbourhood and could be played at any vacant place without much expense. Born in 80s/90s kids must be knowing these traditional sports which they would learn on their own. Although these ancient games are now mostly confined to rural areas, thanks to the digital revolution, coupled with the proliferation of smartphones, the traditional games are finding wider acceptance among current generation as well.
It’s kind of poonarjanm (rebirth) for the fading art of traditional games – albeit in digital attire! The gaming companies are now betting big on traditional games by focusing on bringing digital innovation to traditional Indian games to compete with the western world. The local gaming companies are, in fact, busy creating their own space within the gaming segment by virtue of their unique offerings.
What’s more, considering the masses and their inability to afford expensive console systems etc, the Android and iOS ecosystems provide a perfect low-cost alternative to expensive gaming systems. By introducing those games to the digital gaming world, Indian gaming companies are trying to connect the common man to the socio-cultural aspects of conventional games which are on the verge of extinction.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid emphasis on the fast-growing digital gaming arena by saying that India should tap the huge potential in this area and lead the international digital gaming sector by developing games that are inspired by Indian culture and folk tales.
We have listed down some of the most popular traditional games which are taking the mobile gaming industry by storm in India, akin to popular traditional card games such as teen patti, poker and rummy which have already seen many versions on virtual platforms.
Pachisi is a cross and circle board game, which originated in 6th century ancient India. It is played on a symmetrical shaped board with coloured pieces and dice. It is also known as Ludo in the present day. The game rules demand for the dice to be rolled out for the pieces to move around the board. Each piece moves from a start point, has to complete a round around the board towards the end point. Opponent pieces race you in the round. Should the pieces overlap, players who are playing their turn can slash out the piece, sending it back to the starting point. The mobile version comes in handy with this game, should you cheat, no one needs to know. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
This is a game which is typically played outdoors and involves a ball and a set of flat stones/ pebbles placed on top of each other. It is played between two teams, strikers and seekers. A member from team seekers throws the ball at the pile of stones to knock it over. The seekers then try to restore the pile of stones while the team strikers throw the ball at them. If the ball touches any player of team seekers, they are ‘out’ and his team continues without him. A seeker can always safeguard himself by touching an opposite team member before the ball hits him. The game has three levels to conquer, in mobile version. The goal in each level is to target and bring down the array of stones, together with shooting all the opponents with a sling while they attempt to stack the stones. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
This game was once famous as a gully sport. Playing with Kancha (marbles) was the shizz among young boys in town and villages of India. The game has its own modus operandi: played using marbles. The rules were simple, a player is supposed to hit the selected target ‘kancha’ using their own marble ball. The winner takes all the kanchas. But thanks to the virtual version, you’ll never have to worry about losing your marbles again. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Widely played among the masses post the World War I, the four-player game carrom or ‘Karrom’ is believed to be invented by the Indian Maharajas. That explains why we aim for the pink coin called ‘queen’, no? A typical ‘strike and pocket’ game designed with three key elements i.e., the board, the coins or coin men and the striker disk. The objective of the play is to use the striker disk to pocket the coins just at the flick of a finger. The first player or team (two players) to pocket all the coins with the queen coin wins. Interestingly, in the digital version, mastering this game is lot easier. This game also allows a multiplayer option on phone apps. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Aadu Puli Aattam
Aadu Puli Aattam or Lambs and Tigers, was designed to lesson kids on the power of unity and brainstorming. Traditionally, it is a brainy game that helps you develop strategy and concept of teamwork. A typical two player game played on a board with asymmetric pyramid grid (the grids are drawn in various patterns). It is played between two teams; one who controls moves of the aadus (lambs) and the other controls the Pulis’ (tigers) moves. The Pulis’ hunt the aadus and aadus block pulis’ movements as a defence. The virtual version of Aadu Puli Aattam is indeed a great work of artificial intelligence. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
This was an all-time favourite of young boys in India. Gilli-Danda is played with a stick and oval-shaped chunk of wood. The game is a similar to cricket. It’s generally played by standing in a very small circle of a few people. The player at strike balances the gilli (wooden chunk) on a stone in an inclined manner. The striker is then supposed to hit the gilli using the danda (stick) to flip it in the air. While it is in the air the player strikes the gilli aiming to hit as far one can. To score in a game like this, similar to cricket runs, the player is required and touch a pre-decided point outside the small circle’s boundaries before the gilli is retrieved by an opponent. In the virtual version, clear each level to be the Super champion of Gilli Danda game. It’s available for free on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Gaddira is purely a pass-time game which involves tyre rolling or hoop rolling with a stick. In ancient India kids ran along rolling tyres on the street. They would roll these unused, old thin tyres or hoops either with bare hands or using a stick. These kids invented a game out of it by performing tricks with the rolling tyre. This then became a regular affair and the game meant keeping the tyre or the hoop rolling upright for longer time. An increase in the appreciation for the touch screen feature is majorly because of such games. In the mobile version, you can play each level multiple times, each time trying different technique to achieve minimum time. It’s available for free Google Play.