Now, I am well aware that you can play Zendo with anything. There are tales from the olden days of people playing Zendo with pocket change. I could take all the different bottles of cleaner from under the kitchen sink and use them to play Zendo. The question isn’t what is possible but what is reasonable.
Even someone as DIY as me is not going to be thrilled with the idea of dumping out a waste paper basket to play a deduction game. Just because you _can_ do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You have to sell the idea of playing a game to an audience of potential players. Nifty retro plastic pieces, they can sell the idea of playing Zendo. Crumpled paper, used up pens and empty chip bags, they don’t.
I like to think of myself as a purist who could play a game with rubbish but I’d be lying about if I said I want to. There is no escaping presentation.
At the same time, I’m not saying you have to only play Zendo or similar games with the official components. With a set of tools with a good aesthetic, the game can be engaging. And with tools like Picasso Tiles, you have something functional and aesthetically pleasing to make Zendo koans with.
It might be a while before I can ‘borrow’ his Picasso Tiles for Zendo though.