So when I first started this project, I was pretty sure it was going to stay local (due to budget blah blah blah) but the Internet always has a way of picking up little seeds and dispersing them to unexpected places. I was filming in New York at the time when a message from Adriana Hazra landed in my inbox and I was rubbing my eyes with my mouth hanging open (drooling?)
Somehow, word of the project had reached her all the way in Calcutta, India and Adriana had even been kind enough to feature an article about us on her otaku/gaming/anime site ASidCast.
Holy sh** right!? I was so excited--and I definitely wanted to get her perspective on gaming in return. I can honestly say that I'd never heard anything about Indian gaming culture, so today's guest post by Adriana was an eye opener. When did gaming start to get big there? Who is into gaming? Is India become a game dev hub?
A little intro...
"Having owned consoles from NES onwards, Adriana is a loyal Nintendo fan who tries to keep up with console, handheld and PC gaming alike. She's a writer and a Media student with a lifelong passion for gaming and Otaku culture." (from the ASidCast site)
Like several other pop culture mediums that were gaining momentum throughout the 80s, video games didn’t really enter India until the late 90s. It was only as the new millennium was being ushered in that Indian kids got to play 8-bit classics like Super Mario Bros. on bootleg NESs and toy stores suddenly had shelves lined with Pokemon games for the GBA.
It could be argued that Indians missed a lot of great games, having nothing but 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit games at a time when legendary games like Ocarina of Time were being released. But I consider myself pretty lucky, because while I never did get to see consoles like the GameCube in the market here, I got to more or less experience every generation of gaming right from second generation, despite not even having even two decades of gaming under my belt now.
The rate at which the gaming scene has progressed in India has its positives and negatives. While there were certain eras, such as that of the GameCube, that we completely missed (and couldn’t experience till emulators were available), we had different generations of people playing the same generations of games from the early 2000s onwards, which means that the entire community is more relatable. While younger gamers got to experience a wider range of games, the scope for console gaming decreased drastically as video games began to develop a market, which conversely isolates people who may not have the most “mainstream” taste in games. In fact, with the popularity of PC gaming in India, there are pretty much only a handful of Nintendo gamers in every city. I think that’s pretty sad, considering it was Nintendo consoles that had gotten people here into gaming in the first place.
Things are of course not just a downhill march, pushing India into lack of diversity when it comes to games. While most gaming tournaments in India would previously only have FPS titles, the rapid growth of gaming culture has motivated the organization of more frequent gaming-related events; this has necessitated the inclusion of MOBAs like Dota 2 and even combat games in competitive events. With ESL just entering India, things can only be expected to get drastically better here in terms of competitive gaming. And while no one even expected anything to progress here in terms of game development (the few Indian games we had played in the previous decade having been worse jokes than the products of the Indian animation sector) independent developers started turning all of that around.
With developers like Pyrodactyl Games in the process of developing a game like Unrest, that is both of current qualitative standards and that draws on stylistic aspects that are unique to India, there is a growing possibility of having a lot to look forward to. A lot of young programmers are now planning on getting into development and a lot of students are shaping their career paths to take them the way of game development. And while we do still face the prospect of irreparable hardware problems as console gamers, or unjustified judgments as younger or female gamers, India seems to be a country that is slowly and steadily accepting video games as a mainstream pop culture medium.
As always, feel free to comment and ask questions!
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