Game over for hi-tech pursuits

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From the moment computer games were invented, it was generally assumed that the clock was ticking for old-fashioned pastimes. After all, who wants to play crusty old board games when you can enter an interactive world with spectacular graphics and cool sound effects? The common sight in recent years of commuters playing "snake" on their mobile phones seemed to confirm the existence of a new world in which free time is always filled with a microchip-powered pursuit.

From the moment computer games were invented, it was generally assumed that the clock was ticking for old-fashioned pastimes. After all, who wants to play crusty old board games when you can enter an interactive world with spectacular graphics and cool sound effects? The common sight in recent years of commuters playing "snake" on their mobile phones seemed to confirm the existence of a new world in which free time is always filled with a microchip-powered pursuit.

But did we jump to the wrong conclusion? Could it be that the more time people spend tapping away at a computer at work, the less keen they are to be bombarded by technology in their free time? Do we yearn for less fussy pleasures? That would certainly suggest one reason why backgammon is growing in popularity once again. And "snake" on the train is being replaced by a spot of Sudoku.

Of course, this could be just a stay of execution for such pursuits - a lull before the PlayStations are loaded up once again. But we suspect if a game has lasted as long as backgammon (5,000 years) or Sudoku (its predecessor, magic squares, was invented in 1783) it's not going to die out any time soon.

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