Internet of Melancholy: Remembrance of Obsolete Pleasures

In the days when light and goodness reigned and the world’s evils could be sidelined by the blissful ignorance of childhood, boys waited excitedly for the first Saturday of each month. For in the folds of that blessed Saturday’s newspaper, you could find a sleek copy of Supa Tigers. 

Supa Tigers was a comic that followed the adventures of Prince and his club as they took on their foes on the cricket pitch to establish global dominance. The club wore the greens of Pakistan’s national cricket team and the characters were heavily inspired by real-life personalities. The swashbuckling right-handed batsman Prince was evidently based on Pakistan’s cricketing rock star Shahid Afridi. The stout opening batsman Abdul had a striking resemblance to Pakistan’s stalwart Inzamam ul Haq. One wily fast bowler with an elaborate hairstyle was Pakistan’s swing sensation Mohammed Asif. As if to lay bare the cruelty of the modern age and the passing of times of purity, “The Magician” Mohammed Asif, is now infamous as a disgraced spot-fixer who brought disrepute to the game and is banned from playing the sport. 

Things were simpler back then. Simpler and innocent.

Emblazoned on the front of the Supa Tigers team’s kit was a huge logo of the petrol brand “Caltex” and the back of the comic had a full-page advertisement extolling to you the virtues of using Caltex’s high-octane petrol. A good sniff of the comics would remind one of the violent and volatile scents at petrol stations. Caltex only issued copies of Supa Tigers with one newspaper in Pakistan. As such, to liberate yourself from having to buy a particular rag sheet to read Supa Tigers, at some point in time you would have made the jump to reading the comics on the website of Strika, the publishing company of the comics. 

The wheel of time has grinded on. With the dawn of the age of infographics, Strika has found a huge new market working for corporate entities to create infographics for their workplaces. The Supa Tigers project has long been abandoned and now it is impossible to find even vestiges of Supa Tigers anywhere online. The comics themselves have disappeared without a trace and proof of their very existence is limited to a few stray comic book covers that pop up on Google Images. 

The world has moved on and left Supa Tigers behind in a suspended struggle for cricketing supremacy.

Stick Cricket: In cricket-crazy South Asia, Stick Cricket garnered a dedicated fan base. Stick Cricket was an elegant, simple game you could play on a basic internet connection and simple hardware. You controlled a batsman and used your computer’s direction keys to aim various shots against AI bowlers. With perfect timing, you could very well hit every shot for a six! A frenzied inning of 10 overs of Stick Cricket with many satisfying sixes was perhaps the best way to refresh yourself after a school day. 

Stick Cricket too has fallen. Adobe, the company that made Stick Cricket’s Flash Player engine, has discontinued support for the  25-year-old software since the end of 2020. Flash Player was the engine for many charming online games but the advent of polished console gaming and Flash Player’s vulnerability to security breaches have made it redundant. Now all internet browsers block Flash Player and as a result, you can’t play the original Stick Cricket at all.

But the developers of Stick Cricket have kept up with the times. They are no longer indie game makers putting out free games online. They have moved on to the ultra-lucrative mobile gaming market. Touchscreens have replaced keyboards. Stick Cricket’s developers are now owners of valuable, money-making intellectual property, the endearing charm of the original All Star Slog lost to the ages.

Now is the age of efficiency. A random Google search uses as much processing power as the Apollo 11 mission needed to get mankind to the moon just some decades ago. The internet is no longer an evolving beast filled with delights that cater to our heart’s every whim. Rather, today’s internet is a well-oiled machine effortlessly milling away with no place for human frailty. 

The ages zoom past us and epic changes seek to make our very existence obsolete while we stand as helpless, fearful witnesses to the changing tides of time.