Friday, December 1, 2023

Being Atmanirbhar through toys and games? An intriguing possibility

By Aditya Vashisht

A push to the Atmanirbhar campaign was given by the Prime Minister in which he extended the idea to cover the toys and games sector. The Prime Minister exhorted the usefulness of toys as a means for developing psychomotor and cognitive skills adequately in a child as well as not forgetting to mention their societal value. A meeting was convened to discuss ways to boost manufacturing and to transform the character of Indian toys into a globalized 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 ensure the provision of toys with proper design and which also serve as a manifestation of the innovative power of the Indian youth. Online games were also proposed to be a part of such a program.

The initiative taken by the government in the above mentioned way is worthy of appreciation. Indeed, toys serve many other purposes than being mere instruments to entertain oneself. They are the reflection of a culture, they display the values which a nation follows and they are a product of the innovation of an entity. With these features, it would not be wrong to say that toys do reflect the society. They form a part of it and display the inclinations which a child in a society is being provided. 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 the society. Kids wearing World War II style helmets in their advertisements can provide us a perfect manifestation of the general inclination being provided, as well as at the same time, being promoted in the society. The tag of the �The Real American Hero� gives it the stamp of that inclination.

Toys and video games cannot only inform us about the current trends in the society, but can also serve as a way of promoting the past. Educating the youngest lot of the society becomes much easier through these instruments. Obviously, these constituents do not provide the whole picture but they can certainly be qualified to help in the origination of a curiosity about the association of this toy or video game. 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 U.S.A�s entry served as an adequate way of the promotion of the patriotic spirit among the American masses, which is necessary to win a war. Newly recruited soldiers by reading his comics nurtured an aspiration to be that Captain who punched all who came before him during his WWII campaign, be it Hitler or Hirohito. This specimen may not have an association with toys and games, but they do show the use of imaginations to serve a particular purpose. And still, Captain America�s toys and games do have a following in the market. The purpose of its origin may have been overshadowed, but has not died for the flag themed hero.

Video games for that matter can provide an excellent way in which education about the past can be promoted. Why is this being mentioned? Because games provide its users a firsthand experience of that virtual world in which he/she is playing. Games with historical themes serve both the functions of education as well as entertainment. A twenty four minutes 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 in the historical context 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 since arcade games with themes ranging from the Cuban Revolution to the Vietnam War can provide a proper attestation to the above claim. Thus the role of toys and games in the context of their social contribution cannot be easily subjected to dispute.

Therefore, 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 Chanakaya, a business board game on the Tatas or the presence of a properly articulated action figure of a soldier from the Azad Hind Fauj on the shelves of supermarkets.       

(Author is a student and blogger. He can be reached at [email protected])

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