Tamashobana – Playing is mandatory
19 December, 2015
Active games have been popular in Georgia since ancient times. Starting with ball games such as Lelo and ending with blind man’s buff and the like, the variety of both games themselves and types of physical activity they involve is astounding. These games used to be considered an inseparable part of everyday life, providing both physical and mental development for children and adolescents – in no small part due to the fact that many of them were highly interactive and
malleable. However, after videogames became widespread worldwide, the majority of children exchanged their homes’ yards for desktops as sources of entertainment. Georgia’s playgrounds, sidewalks and alleys are no longer full of little kids and ringing with their laughter – they stand empty and abandoned, with their former occupiers now sitting nose-deep in computer screens and phones instead of playing games their parents played.
Tamashobana (“tamashi” means “game” in Georgian) is a company dedicated to producing products for Georgian games. It was founded in 2015 by two friends – Nini Chikovani and Nona Songhulashvili.

“I was with Nona when her little nephew ran up to us and asked to play together. We offered him to play “rezinobana” (a game when two people stretch a circular piece of rubber between them to form two parallel lines and the player does various acrobatic feats in the middle without tripping), but it turned out that neither did we have the rubber nor did the kid know this game, even though it was extremely popular in our childhood,” says Nini. This is when she and her friend got the idea to engineer a revival. “The current generation has no idea about the games that we and our parents played. All they do is spend time sitting at their computers or staring into their phones. In my childhood, almost every single family had a tradition of playing lotto in the evening; today, this tradition is gone and children do not even know what lotto is. This is why we decided to resurrect all these games,” she explains.
The first stage of their work was to list the games that were all but forgotten nowadays. After making use of numerous written and oral sources, they compiled an impressive list that had to be divided into categories – games to be played at home, games that require a table, games played outside, games played exclusively when it’s raining, etc.
“Historically, games have played a large role in Georgians’ everyday life, and numerous local and foreign sources alike confirm this. If we look at our writers’ works, almost all of them contain descriptions of various games and festivities. Games made people healthier, they cheered and livened them up. This is why we think it is necessary to revive Georgian games and let them spread. Original, historical Georgian games were very active and vigorous, requiring far more flexibility and endurance than anything similar they had in Europe, except probably Rome and Sparta.Games unite children, teach them to follow the rules and uphold order, raise their willpower, make them hardier, more determined to overcome obstacles and happier, of course,” says Nini.

Even though the girls’ first priority is to become successful at the Georgian market, instructions for the games come in English as well as Georgian, to prevent the language barrier interfering with tourists’ interest. By the way, these games are not just for children – adults can play them perfectly fine, too. Also, Tamashobana’s creators care a great deal about the environment: “Almost everything we have is handmade of wood; what isn’t wooden is made from ecologically clean products, not low-quality plastic. This is very important for us.”

Initially, Tamashobana is going to sell its goods through its website, with free delivery throughout the country. “We are also having talks with a bookstore network Biblusi, which can be a perfect vector for selling our goods. We researched the market and saw that toys similar to the ones we make are far more expensive than ours, while the purpose behind our company is precisely to make sure that these toys are available to everyone, so that children would return to traditional Georgian games.”
The closest thing English has to the Georgian word “tamashobana” is “gaming”; while seemingly long, it’s very easy to pronounce. “My partner Nona Songhulashvili came up with the name. At first we were afraid that people wouldn’t pick it up because it was long, but “tamashobana” is so satisfying to pronounce that people easily remember it and everyone immediately understands what it is about,” Nini explains.

The two girls have grand plans for the future. They want Tamashobana to enter every Georgian home, because playing is mandatory.