Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thunee popularity

I’m proud to say I play Thunee. It’s a cultural heritage, and the fact that it’s a popular game makes me even more proud. But how popular is it really?

First and foremost it’s a relatively confined game played amongst Indians in South Africa only, well mostly. It seems like a gamers parallel to Apartheid and the group areas act. Ok, South Africa was a bubble during that period, but the game existed long before that and quite some time during the age of social medias. Are charous systematically blocking other groups from playing the game, unconsciously – but still?! On that note, I see this white guy (fair assumption) online complaining about complex rules, and advising to find a live indian to teach the game.

Anyway, amongst Indians in South Africa the total universe amounts to about 8 million people. How many plays the game, or are likely to play the game? Subtract children, moffies and some steckies behind the pots, then 25% maybe? That’s 2million players in a best-case scenario, but continued charou confinement. Hundreds! Converted to Rands in my pocket, I’d be very chuffed. Relative to the world population in 2015, that’s less than 0,03%. Much more likely, Kajol will run down my trellidoor and beg on her knees to marry me tomorrow!
Relative to other card games then, how popular is it? Robert Putnam reports that; “In the late 1950s, it was estimated that 35 million Americans – nearly one third of all adults – were bridge players”. In 2005, 25 million Americans over the age of 18 knew how to play bridge, according to the American Contract Bridge League. Only 3 million of these played the game at least once a week. Although reclining, players can study a hand of bridge presented in the newspapers, pretty much wherever you go in the world.

Take poker for instance. Its played all over the world and the number of players are increasing by the day. Poker players have pocketed their dough since the Wild West, and poker as a profession doesn’t raise an eyebrow anymore. People are employed to write about and broadcast the game. Anestimated 80 million people in the US played poker in 2005, and 2 millionsplayed online every month. The number of players in the world series of poker (WSOP) increased from 393 in 1999 to 8773 players in 2006 (Wikipedia). During the same timeframe, numerous Thunee players went into “brain drain exile” where they had nobody to play with.

Card games worldwide are facing a general decline in players. The exception is poker, but mainly driven by online playing. With hardly any online presence, Thunee may have a gloomy future ahead. Just a small indication before the recline hits us heavily… How often do you read about Thunee in the papers?

The future might be bright though. According to new UN estimates, India will pass China as the most populous country in only 7 years time. If Amitabh Bachan or Kajol got hooked… Thunee could trump poker!

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