In late 2011, vacationing at a Jodhpur Palace Hotel, my 11yr old introduced me to Smurfs' Village. Always worried of video game addiction in kids, I actually liked this game mimicking some aspects of life, instead the gory mayhem, for the kids.
You see in Smurfs' Village, getting smurf to do activities like building a house or harvesting a crop, earns you coins and XPs that allow you to move to next level. In few instances, you get smurf berries which can be used for few special goodies. Hence getting more and more smurf berries becomes the ultimate game, along with moving to higher levels.
Over the next year, we played the game together, letting smurfs work on farm, building structures, making purchase decisions on what to buy, when and which crops to grow to move faster in the game. We were extra careful about using our smurf berries. I wanted kids to learn and have a sense of achievement, so we decided to earn the berries, instead to buy them. (I won't deny that some economic considerations also played part. ) Kids were always thinking about how to maximize berries collection and how to use them only when needed. We always decided together what to buy with the berries!
On December 25th, 2012 morning, a miracle started on our iPad, specifically in Smurfs' Village. We were enjoying our year end vacation at a villa by Bay of Bengal beach. First we got 25 surf berries free as seasons’ greetings. My daughter shouted out the news to us, with joy! The girls already knew how to put those to use. Then came another 25 while other daughter was playing on it an hour later. We all were so happy. Soon, we had 100 surf berries. Instead of the walk on beach, we were now glued to our iPad. With some serious berries in our pocket, we started deciding which goodies we would buy. We made a list, then redid it few times. 100 berries was still a luxury in their game!
But, the berries kept on coming. As we had 500 berries, our focus started shifting to the good to have goodies rather than their function. By the afternoon, we had 1000 berries. By this time, we stopped discussing what to buy. Nobody any more mentioned of more berries coming. The fun was long gone. But they kept coming. By the evening, we had bought everything berries could buy, and still had 500 or so berries. What started as a miracle on X-mas, ended up an anticlimax.
Interestingly, my daughters never played the game again after that Xmas. I occasionally play to relax. May be I still like achievement through struggle.
It did make me start thinking...my father was a son of a farmer with land, but low on cash. He walked few miles a day to get schooling. As a son of a professor, I went to school in a bus. As daughters of US educated techno-entrepreneurs, my kids went to school in a luxury sedan from their first day of nursery. While my father saw schooling as way out of his village, I saw engineering as the way to go to US. My kids, too young still, look at life as journey. I see their efforts to become very good in what they enjoy.
Smurf berry experience made me also ponder- do too much too early in life takes away the lust for life or affords you the euphemism "pursue my interests". Does it take away your passion to excel or it can allow to enjoy the childhood. How much of the passion borne out of struggle and how much of one's interests?
A world that celebrates super richest list, when 40-50% of population still are not getting basic amenities, how many more berries one need after having a lot. At what level of berries, focus should move from maximizing collection to sharing? Can we share more with those, for whom the struggle for basic needs never ends?
Like recent exclusion of swimsuit from Miss World pageant, is it time for Forbes to stop publishing 1000+ billionaires list, every year? Should we rather celebrate Worlds’ top 1,000 donations to social causes from this new year onwards? First by world, then by the Country in later year? May be we should start a website to showcase this sharing. That is my new year resolution for 2015!
A Happy New Year to You & Your Loved Ones!