From the Project "Armenian Traditional Games"

Haykaz Margaryan

While introducing the theme "The History of Games and Toys" to the learners of Grade 6 I found out a noteworthy and disturbing fact: our children are not aware of our traditional national games. The games which were part of the routine of the children of my generartion, are something like exotics for the new generation. Being surprised at all this I organized a survey with all the 4th graders. The results are strongly disturbing:     

·         None of the learners knew anything about such traditional Armenian games as "Lakhti", "Chan", "Chlik-dasta", "Karktik" and so on. All these games were inseparable part of our childhood.

·          Only half of the learners were aware of "Hide and Seek", "Flag". They mentioned that they played those games in the country when they visited their grandparents during their vacations. 

·         A quarter of the learners doesn't play outdoor games.

·         More than half of the learners (the boys) play only football spontaneously without any definite periodicity.

·         All of them play computer games. They are aware of all the computer games even the most complicated ones which demand a lot of time and memory. 

·         They sit in front of their computers for 5-6 hours a day. One fifth of the surveyed said frankly that they played computer games even on false pretences saying that they were doing their lessons.

·         Half of the parents allow their children to play computer games as long as they wish without any time limitations. 

·         Nearly as many parents are not interested in what their children are engaged in sitting in front of the computers.

·         Ony one third of the learners go in for sports.

 Such is our learners’ image of ''happy childhood''. I no longer get surprised at seeing obese children or mummy ‘son among nowadays children. Parents deprive their children of the natural environment: the yard, river, forest. They don't allow them to play in the rain and mud; children do not go skating or sledging, do not shiver from cold playing winter out-door games. Playing physically active games is a vital necessity for children. Playing games is an activity done for pleasure, but is very often used as an educational tool. The demarcation line between games and jobs is not distinct, and some games are also considered to be jobs, for example, chess, football, basketball, lawn tennis and so on. Playing has always existed in placental mammals' beհaviour. Animals use game playing as a means of teaching. There are thousands of video films on the Internet which show how beasts teach their cubs to to move crawling, lie in wait and attack. Monkeys even have group games like people. 

We have forgotten our traditional games, we do not transmit them to the next generation which should be one of the main aims of education. Game playing develops individual qualities of a man: competitive soul, striving for cooperation, will to win, flexible thinking, readiness for mutual assistance, agility and so on. So playing games in human’s life activities is of key importance. Children get to know the surrounding world through everyday games.

What have we given to our children instead of active outdoor games? We have given them various, colourful, attractive computer games which are able to carry away children’s mind and attention.

I am not at all against scientific technical progress. I am aware of the merits that computer games may have in children’s upbringing. I myself sometimes play computer games but I am able to quit it in time. Quitting in time is something very difficult for a 10-13-year-old child. We should be able to help our children quit in time by encouraging them to play active outdoor games. In this way we can combine outdoor active games and computer games. It is worth mentioning that computer games not only have merits but demerits as well. Many of them provoke violence, give the heroes several lives, and children lose the limits of real and virtual lives. There have been cases when a child, having lost the feeling of reality, jumped out of the window of a high building, or killed his friend and got surprised at his having only one life. The learners of Grade 6 helped me to make the list of some computer games provoking violence.         

·         Manhunt

·         Postal

·         GTA

·         Dead Space

·         Splatterhouse

·         Blood

·         The Darkness

·         Soldier of Fortune

·         Hotline Miami

·         No Russian

Such games have destructive influence on teenagers’ psychic world. Some means of media have written about a boy who killed his parents because they didn’t allow him to play computer games.  

Here is a link to the article discussing this issue.

Computer addiction is also dangerous for teenagers. It affects those who are carried away with computer games or spend days in social nets.

Unlike computer games Armenian national games do not have any side effects. Their influence on children’s psychic and physical development is only positive. These entertaining games have been transmitted from generation to generation. They symbolically expressed different political, social-economical, habitual, ritual phenomena illustrating human’s activities in various ways. There were theatrical-circus, sportive, military, ritual, intellectual, everyday life games. Songs, dances, jokes were used while playing games. Like language dialects one and the same game had different rules in different regions of Armenia. The games became more popular during national or religious holidays (Easter, Hambartzum, Barekendan).

The learners of Grade 6 were very interested in this theme of games. They especially liked the game Ktapet (a game played with sticks). They themselves got the sticks ready for the game, and we held an inter-class competition on November 6. The second competition took place on November 18 during the Sebastatsi Days. The director of the Educomplex, Ashot Bleyan, greeted the participants and encouraged them. Not only were the participants inspired by the game but also tens of other learners who were cheering the players up.                

Bibliography
Աթոյան Կ., «Ֆիզիկական կուլտուրայի և սպորտի հնագույն ակունքները Հայաստանում», Երևան, 1985:
Բդոյան Վ., Հայ ժողովրդական խաղեր, Երևան, 1963-1980:
Абгарян Л., Первобытный праздник и мифология, Ереван, 1983:

 

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