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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Weekend
The changing landscape of games
    2017-June-2  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

GAMES are an indispensable part of one’s childhood. As International Children’s Day offers kids an occasion to enjoy themselves, many adults find themselves feeling nostalgic for the games of their youth.

“When people could not afford many toys, we found joy in the simplest of items,” said Rong Zhihua, 66, from Central China’s Hubei Province.

The standard of living for children across China may vary, but many children born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are united in their memories of playing very similar games — playing with rubber bands, shuttlecock and hacky sack.

More than games

Rong’s favorite game was jump-roping. She could do more than 100 jumps in one minute. In 1962, when she was 11, she performed 32 different styles of jump-roping and took home the children’s championship title for jump-roping in Wuhan, capital of Hubei.

She started jump-roping at 7 or 8, and referred to it as a “long-lost friend,” noting that its charm lay in the sense of achievement, the cooperation with friends and convenience, as the ropes could be carried easily. “I made a lot of friends while playing games,” she said. “Many of whom I am still friends with now.”

In East China’s Fujian Province, Wu Yanda was fascinated with another game judose, or chicken-fighting. Two players stand on one leg and attempt to knock the other over.

Wu was born into poverty, his father was the sole breadwinner, providing for six children. He had only one pair of trousers, which his mother washed in the evening and, wet or dry, he had to wear the next day.

Only in games did he find true happiness. “I was tall and good at the game, so among all the children I was the leader,” said the 52-year-old, still proud after all these years.

“Games helped us cope,” he said. “While life often seemed unfair, the game was always fair — only the most skillful could win.”

Lost friends

As time continues to move forward, many old games are losing their appeal.

“It reflects changes in society at large,” said Zhu Dongliang, a sociologist at the Xiamen University.

People have moved from single-story houses into tall buildings, while due to the single-child policy, siblings were a rarity, making it increasingly difficult for kids to find friends for team games such as jump-roping or hacky sack.

Another change is the improved standard of living. Televisions, computers and cell phones keep the children indoors and fixed to screens.

A survey by the Tencent Research Institute showed that by the end of 2015, about 191 million teenagers and children were playing online games, about 66.5 percent of the country’s young Web users. About 18.1 percent of these young players first played online games at the age of 6 to 10, 41.1 percent between 11 and 14.

Rong Zhihua’s 9-year-old grandson likes smartphone games. “When I told him I didn’t have any games, he installed them on my phone immediately,” Rong said.

To encourage him to be active, the boy was sent to taekwondo lessons. Many parents are now signing their kids up for extracurricular sports, dance or music lessons.

“More than 100 yuan (US$14) for a one-hour class,” said Ma Yan in Beijing, whose 6-year-old son is currently learning piano and fencing. She said her son was showing signs of being addicted to smartphone games and cartoons.” The cartoons were silly and diverted his attention away from physical interaction.”

Preserving memory

Wu Yanda later became an attorney and a businessman, but he still held fond memories of the games he played as a child.

In 2005, he started a judose competition. Five years later he established the International Judose Association.

To date, he has organized more than 50,000 contests, registered more than 20,000 judose players, or foot fighters, and set up 16 clubs and training centers. He also had judose registered as a sport in 118 countries and regions across the world.

Some schools and kindergartens try to encourage their kids to play outdoor games. In the experimental kindergarten affiliated to China Children’s Center in Beijing, kids are taught to play hopscotch and hawk-and-chicken (a chasing game in which the “hawk” is supposed to catch the “chicken”).

However, Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist and retired professor with Renmin University, is not hopeful about the future of these dated games.

“The games are outdoors, but our air quality is bad now and outside space is limited. The roads are crowded with cars, and are no longer safe for children,” he said. (Xinhua)

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