Video games and people who extensively play them have long divided opinion. At one point they have been projected as avenues that can improve hand-eye coordination, stimulate critical thinking and foster cognitive ability, while at the same time have been accused of reinforcing gender stereotypes and promoting violent behaviour.
These polarizing opinions in no way have hampered the gaming industry in India though. With one of the world's largest youth population, India is poised to become one of the world's leading markets in the Gaming Sector. Currently valued at USD 890 million, the Indian Gaming Industry is estimated for the annual growth rate of 14.3 per cent annually.
When one thinks of video games, the general consensus restricts it to PC gaming and gaming consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox. However, in the age of smartphones and cheap data plans, mobile gaming is leading the charge. A report by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) shows the extent of the dominance of the industry in India. The industry enjoys 71% of the gaming share in the country, with it projected to reach $943 million by 2022.As many as 3 out of 4 Indian players enjoying mobile games minimum twice a day.
“The main advantage of mobile gaming is that everyone can play it and it’s free. Not everyone has a gaming console, and even if they do, to play online you need to pay for the subscription. Games like PUBG and the new Call of Duty online allow me to play it with my friends who are in different places, without much fuss” says Rushikesh, an avid gamer who daily plays mobile online multi-players in his pastime.
The main advantage of mobile games is the ease of use and accessibility. You don’t need to be a pro gamer to play them. They’re simple to understand, easy to play and can be played anytime, anywhere and with anyone. “ I’m not an avid gamer, but there are some games that are just too fun to play with your friends. Games like Evil Apples and Psych have kept me busy in lectures, as you can play them even without much concentration” says Vineet, who usually only plays the trending online multi-players on his smartphone.
Gaming Consoles and PCs
However, in spite of the dominance of mobile gaming, veteran gamers still prefer to go old school. “Mobile gaming is for noobs” claims Anant. PC gaming and consoles are where the so-called pro gamers come in. A good gaming computer and the auxiliary setup can consist of multiple screens, expensive hardware and other gaming devices, which can et you back by more than a lakh. “ It’s all worth it though. There is no fun in gaming without the setup. I play all the classics, both online and offline for about 4 hours a day. From Counter-Strike competitions to DOTA marathons, I’ve done it all and enjoyed every second of it” said Anant.
Gaming Consoles however also help in catering to the average Joe, the casual gamer who only plays for pleasure. It is a one-time investment and offers a simple plug in and play facility. “I certainly play a lot, but I for sure am not a professional gamer. I play the usual FIFA, GTA and any other famous games that come out every year, usually with friends or alone for pleasure. It’s good past time for me” claims Nihaar.
Even though the gaming industry has something for all, sadly women who play these games still have to fight through the gender stereotype of women not playing video games. Games traditionally have been made out to cater to males, with even the women characters being moulded in highly stereotypical and regressive ways. “ So I get this look, whenever I say let’s play FIFA. I have even gotten guys telling me that they’ll teach me, conveniently assuming that just because I’m a girl I wouldn't know how to play” said Smriti, an avid gamer who plays on a PS4.
Irrespective of the type, model or kind of games, they’ve always given us joy, right from childhood till even now. From Mario and Road Rash on our television sets to the high-quality games of next-gen consoles and sophisticated gaming PCs, each game has a joy of its own!