PLAYER ONE: POWER UP

India Today - - LEISURE - —Kr­ish Raghav

Un­til the late 2000s, few games were de­vel­oped in In­dia. Those that were, like ‘Yod­dha: The Warrior’, ‘Chakravyuh’ and ‘Bha­gat Singh’, were un­spec­tac­u­lar at­tempts at repli­cat­ing pop­u­lar in­ter­na­tional fads. How­ever, com­pa­nies like Ban­ga­lore-based Dhruva In­ter­ac­tive were the go-to source for 3D-ren­dered cars in im­mac­u­late de­tail, such as those in the Forza se­ries. Many of the big­gest ti­tles in the last decade, from ‘Forza’ to ‘Call of Duty’, had a hid­den In­dian con­nec­tion. But the last few years have seen a gen­er­a­tional shift. This week, the Con­fed­er­a­tion of In­dian In­dus­try (CII) will be host­ing the In­dia Gam­ing Show (IGS), an ex­hi­bi­tion and con­fer­ence that will at­tempt to get a bird’s eye view of what is now a be­he­moth in­dus­try-in-the-mak­ing. Kick­starter projects like ‘Un­rest’ (a role-play­ing game set in an­cient In­dia) are gain­ing ground, and com­pa­nies like Tiny Mogul are mak­ing mo­bile games for a lo­cal au­di­ence. Ex­cit­ing proof-of-con­cepts are out there on the fringes of games world­wide, such as ‘An­tarik­sha San­char’, which ex­plores the life and work of Srini­vasa Ra­manu­jan. Work­shops and game jams and code-schools are ev­ery­where. What’s miss­ing is the sense of a con­nected in­dus­try.

Still, In­dia has some ad­van­tages over neigh­bour­ing China—where a (re­cently lifted) decade-long ban on game con­soles cre­ated a pref­er­ence for supremely com­plex Mul­ti­player On­line Bat­tle Are­nas (such as ‘League of Leg­ends’ or ‘DOTA2’) and sprawl­ing mo­bile games (such as ‘Yin Yang Story’, 2016’s big­gest hit), that are al­most im­pen­e­tra­ble to out­siders.

In con­trast, In­dian gamers’ habits and pref­er­ences are very close to the so-called ‘AAA’ in­dus­try ideal. That vi­tal dif­fer­ence sug­gests that with in­dus­try sup­port and greater me­dia at­ten­tion, In­dia is po­si­tioned to be the next des­ti­na­tion for game de­sign for a global au­di­ence.

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