The Atmanirbhar idea was recently extended by the Prime Minister to the toys and games industry. The Prime Minister spoke of the usefulness of toys as a means of developing psychomotor and cognitive skills in a child. He spoke about an official meeting convened to discuss ways to boost manufacturing and to transform the character of Indian toys into a globalised form. As always, the Prime Minister did not miss to mention the use of technology and innovation in achieving the said goal. Hackathons for youths was suggested to design toys which can show the innovative power of Indian youth. Online games were also proposed to be part of such a programme.
The initiative taken by the government in the above mentioned way is worthy of appreciation. Indeed, toys serve many purposes other than being mere instruments of entertainment. They are the reflection of a culture, of the values which a nation follows, and of innovation. It would not be wrong to say that toys reflect a society. Toys serve as a perfect way for promoting a culture or a thought. GI Joe would not have gained popularity if it was not for the period in which it was launched. Though one cannot condone the horrific act of war, but this toy series did reflect the general inclination of the youngest constituent of society. The tag of the ‘The Real American Hero’ gives it the stamp of that inclination.
Toys and video games do not only inform us about the trends in society, but also serve as a way of promoting the past. Educating the youngest lot about one’s culture and history becomes much easier through these instruments. Obviously, toys do not provide the whole picture but they can certainly arouse curiosity. The famed hero Steve Rogers may be fighting against intergalactic forces in the 21st century but his origin lies in the Second World War. Punching Adolf Hitler even before the USA’s entry in the war served as a way of promoting the patriotic spirit among the American masses, so necessary to win a war. Newly recruited soldiers by reading comics nurtured an aspiration to be that Captain America who punched all who came before him during his WWII campaign, be it Hitler or Hirohito. Even today, Captain America toys and games have a large following in the market. The purpose of its origin may have faded from public memory, but its symbolism has not died.
Video games also can provide an excellent way in which education about the past can be promoted. Video games provide a firsthand experience of a virtual world. Games with historical themes serve both the function of education as well as entertainment. A 24-minute game play of Call of Duty: WWII would provide one a perfect glimpse into the hardships endured by the soldiers who survived the ordeal, not to mention the weapons, conditions and uniforms of that time. Video games have become so advanced that one can have a good interaction with a Greek philosopher like Socrates (Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey). This practice of basing video games on real-life events is not new, as arcade games with themes ranging from the Cuban Revolution to the Vietnam War attest.
If the above examples and their implications be considered and effected, the time is not far when we shall see a strategic game based on Chanakya, a business board game on the Tatas, or the presence of a soldier from the Azad Hind Fauj on the shelves of supermarkets.
The writer is a blogger and student. [email protected]