Being stuck at home, with limited modes to keep themselves entertained, people are more likely to try new things and develop new habits. Cooking, painting, playing musical instruments or computer games are some of the many activities many of us under lockdown have taken up to keep ourselves busy. Another such engaging activity is playing the traditional Indian board games, that seem to have made a massive comeback in our drawing rooms. Board games are not only entertaining and interactive, but they also reduce your screentime and provided a refreshing distraction from the panic and stress that has become a part of our lives under lockdown.
Chennai-based Vinita Sidhartha, Founder of Kreeda Games, speaks with SheThePeople.TV about her venture and how traditional games are making a comeback. At Kreeda, there’s a board game for all age group – Goat and Tiger, Indian Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and more.
What inspired you to start Kreeda?
As a child or even as a young girl in college, if anyone had suggested I would work to revive traditional games, I would probably have laughed at them. My childhood was an eclectic mix of the traditional and modern, with friends and family playing a huge role. While I grew up with many of these games being played at home, I must confess that it did not inspire me in any way to start Kreeda. In fact, I took them for granted.
It was when I was a fresh young professional with two children, that my grandparents did a lot of babysitting. They played many of these old games with my children and I was amazed to see how much the children enjoyed them and how effortlessly these games bridged an 80-year age gap. But when I looked around, I realised that these games that I had taken for granted were slowly dying out.
As a journalist, I felt the need to write about them and followed up the series with a publication. Eventually this led to setting up Kreeda.
You studied journalism and then went on to pursue entrepreneurship. Do you believe that your education helps you make better decisions in the business world?
My degree in journalism also covered marketing communication and other allied fields such as PR, photography and even a little design. They were skills that would hold me in good stead as an entrepreneur. They helped me think out of the box and build a brand with little or no investment in marketing. Making business decisions was something I learned in the real world.
Amidst coronavirus lockdown, how are these games helping recreate the lost art of family gathering and spending quality time with each other?
Long before the coronavirus and almost since the inception of Kreeda we have stressed its role in building family bonds and strengthening relationships. In fact, all our workshops have families playing together. These games go beyond age, background, education, literacy and language and have the unique ability to bring people together.
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Can these games help relieve stress and anxiety at a critical time like this?
Playing has always been a source of fun, laughter, and happy memories. And fun and laughter are critical in coping with stress and anxiety. Additionally, many games like pallanguzhi, 5 stones and githe have players handling numerous small stones and pebbles. These are akin to the Greek worry beads and playing with them is believed to relieve stress. Additionally, Kreeda has done a lot of field research on the relevance of these games in the 21st century in early childhood learning, special education, mathematical skills, life skills, and even corporate training.
Does Kreeda have any strategy for the lockdown?
Kreeda has decided to do a series of videos on the background, history and philosophy of each game – 21 days – 21 games. It’s a time to educate people about the value of each game and what we stand to lose if these games are forgotten.
Since this is the age of computer games, what is your strategy to make your products more interesting to kids today?
Our experience with children has been that they love playing our games. There is a different game for every preference and every taste. It’s a question of introducing them to these games.
Kreeda at no point plans to compete with computer games, but rather offer a variety, a different option.
Each game requires different skills and that keeps them exciting. What we focus on is to make the games aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly, safe and Indian in spirit while being global in quality. Additionally, Kreeda does not cater to only children but to people of all ages.
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How has reviving traditional games impacted you on a personal level?
Every game we revive and every customer who tells me they enjoyed our games or bought our games it gives me a thrill. I still get excited watching a customer walk out of a store with Kreeda games.
I still love hearing from grandparents who tell me they connect with their grandchildren through these games. And I love to hear from young adults who have grown up playing our games.
Since board games are not as popular today as they once used to be, how successful are you in making a profit in this business?
It is definitely a challenge as Kreeda has always been very meticulous in research, testing and also maintains high quality and eco-friendly standards. To me, Kreeda has always been a passion project, but that said we have always managed to be financially independent. Shared resources have also helped us keep our costs under control.
What are your future plans for Kreeda? Any tie-ups with NGOs?
Kreeda will continue to do what we do best – revive traditional games and create games based on tradition. We have always done numerous projects with NGOs and have a number of tie-ups to our credit. These include working with senior citizens, children with special needs and a number of orphanages. We have also tied up with NGOs like the Ramanujam Museum and Math Centre to create modules on teaching Maths through traditional games.
What are the challenges you face every day?
The biggest challenge has always been balancing home and work and finding the right mix of time. As Kreeda is yet to become a financially lucrative business and is more a passion project, it requires balancing work, Kreeda and home – a tight rope walk at all times.
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How did your life change with entrepreneurship?
Coming into the work force at a time when work from home was unheard of, when part-time and flexi hours were a dream, entrepreneurship was the best option to allow for more control in balancing work and home.
What did you learn from it?
To merge the left brain and right brain – critical and analytical thinking with creativity.
Since the economy is quite bad right now, has it impacted sales for you?
People always have a need to play, so economic forces do not greatly impact our sale of games.
How did you overcome the initial challenges?
It was a conscious decision to grow slowly and not rush which gave us sufficient time to learn and address the challenges we faced. It gave us time to build structure and processes and understand the direction we were taking.
What are the traits you use for the betterment of your company?
Quality. Research. Testing. Theses are the key guidelines I use to ensure every product appeals to the customer and everything we do keeps the interest of individuals and society paramount.
What has been the most amazing moment so far as an entrepreneur?
There are too many to choose from, but perhaps one is particularly significant. A couple of years ago we got permission from the Chennai police to decorate our car with images of games. We then went on a road show around the city conducting 90 workshops in 30 days with schools, colleges, offices, in metro stations, at old age homes, apartment complexes, etc. The excitement of flagging off in the Kreeda car and the cheers that greeted us everywhere was truly amazing.