Things undergo sea change over the centuries. This is true in the world of soccer, too. Today, the roughly made leather balls have been succeeded by its ultra soft and qualitatively superior versions. Irregular playing fields have been replaced by immaculate turfs. To make the game fairer, referees and rules have evolved changes. Well structured leagues and tournaments have been designed where clubs contest and fans cheer. Along the way, the game has developed into the biggest sports genre in the world, winning millions of fans and followers. But something strange has also happened.
I was trying to strike a conversation with a new entrant at the A-level in school by asking him if he liked football. His reply took me by complete surprise. ‘Yes I do. I never miss any important Premier League events,’ he said. He supported Manchester United and his favourite player was Rooney.
"I am an avid user of the web-based virtual football game," he added. I was trying to figure out if my soccer-crazy friend had ever played soccer.
Almost every household today has access to satellite television channels, which bring to the bedroom sporting events from any part of the world. People also have easy access to the Internet and video game consoles, but sadly few have open playing spaces for the real taste of it. As a result, it is natural for people to gravitate towards the visual and virtual versions of entertainment.
A young boy enjoys living in the world of Power-ranger and Pokemon cartoons. His brother is occupied with the newly purchased Play Station exploring its gaming features. The sister is busy updating her status and commenting on her friend’s photos on the Facebook. His mother is anxious not to miss any episode of the serial she watches regularly on the Star Plus. And the father is absorbed in his laptop working on a presentation he has to make at a seminar.
No doubt, one can gain a lot from the digital world which boasts of an enormous storehouse of information. Every second, we are served huge amounts of audiovisual materials in the documentaries, news, cartoons, musical shows and sports events on our TV sets. The Internet holds a vast treasure trove of multimedia materials on almost anything - e-books, music, movies, maps, magazines, video-tutorials and real-time news. And video games allow us to dwell in the wildest of our dreams.
Virtual-game developers recreate the real-time experience of movies, books, sports, wars and comics. The game ‘Overlord’ allows you to play a role as if you are an emperor. In another game Counter Strike, you can gear up in bullet-proof ‘Kevlar Vests’ and fire shotguns and snipers at your enemies. In the virtual-FIFA game, you can be a manager of your favourite club and win titles.
However, in this world dominated by virtual, gadget-based entertainment, there is little space left for outdoor activities. As a result, people miss a lot that real-life adventures offer. For instance, making a bungee jump is never the same as watching it on television. The real and virtual experiences stand farther apart to each other. The real is far superior.