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Boys come out to play

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Boys come out to play

They are not interested in watching the hero taking on the bad guys or romancing multiple heroines. And, if friends are not game for a night out, they can escape to their own little fantasy world.

Theirs is a world of exotic locations, curvaceous damsels in various stages of undress, weapons which can bring multiple worlds to an end. There is gold, silver and money to be earned, stolen or looted.

A generation addicted to the silver screen and boob tube may find it difficult to believe, but gamers are taking over the entertainment world. If you think it is only for the pimply teenager, think again. A serious gamer devotes as much as 5-6 hours to the blue screen, is male and in the age bracket of 15-30. He disposes of a large portion of his pocket money or his parents' income on gaming. On an average, a serious enthusiast would spend as much as Rs 2,250 every month on games.

A recent survey indicates that about 15% of Indians surveyed played games regularly on the internet. More than 30,000 serious gamers registered for the Indian preliminaries of the World Cyber Games. A contest recently organised by Indiagames attracted 26,000 gamers in 12 cities on mobile handsets. The mobile gaming market is much bigger due to the growing 'mobile' population and is expected to touch $ 500m by '10.

There are gaming parlours also coming up like Private I, Skirmish in Mumbai, NSA in Pune and E-sports in Bangalore. Gaming parlours boast multiplayer games on a local area network. These parlours are becoming popular as the gamer can escape from his family and girlfriend and mingle with like-minded game adrenaline enthusiasts. Sunil Tinani, who runs E-sports in Bangalore, says, “Games like Ragnarok or A3, massive multiplayer online role playing games, are very popular with gamers.

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft are looking at local servers in India to host the Indian gaming community. While phoren games are preferred, some local games by Indiagames, Druva Interactive, Mauj and Paradox Studios are also becoming popular. Another study says the local gaming market (minus mobile gaming) is expected to be worth $50m by '05 with $15m likely to come from PC gaming and $35m from console-based gaming. u Gaming PC can cost up to Rs 75k: Gamers trash traditions but some first-person shooters' traditional games like Counter Strike, Quake, Far Cry and Half Life are still said to be popular.

If the gamer is a 'modder,' who not only plays but hacks and modifies games, he may spend the whole working day on games. A modder would, for instance, spend hours hacking into a game and inserting, say, sexually-explicit material into it. A modder may spend even more, while a general enthusiast may spend as little as Rs 1,500 per month on games; these estimates are based on spends by gamers at gaming parlours in Bangalore.

“The serious gamer has a follower not only in the online world but also the real world,” says a ponytailed Alain Tiquet of Nvidia, adding, “They are worried about CPU speeds, heating of their consoles, water movement, fluidity of movements, jerkiness, etc, etc. Some of the games cannot be won if the system is not fast enough to react to a small flick of the wrist.”

Fast processors, capable of simulating earthquakes, give you real-life images much better than DVD. You don't need a gaming console, you can upgrade your computers by adding high-speed processors, like the GE4 7800 GBH, from Nvidia.

A computer made for gaming may cost as much as Rs 75,000, but it's a full entertainment machine, and your mother can see movies or burn DVDs when you are not playing. A gaming console is cheaper at around Rs 15,000.

The psychographic profile of the gamer is very similar to a movie addict. A gamer is frisky enough, always looking for excitement, not willing or able to exert energy to get the excitement in the real world.

In a massive multiplayer online role playing games environment, you change your name, identity and even physical form. You can choose to be Jackie Chan if you like to jump and kick like a monkey. You can create a brand new identity, complete with swords, guns, cars and women falling all over you.

Games like MMORPG have an addictive allure; they allow you to escape from your girlfriend, wife and mother. And, yes, it is a man's world and the games are simpler than the ones your boss and your girlfriends play with you in real life. If somebody throws a punch at you, you can pull out a knife. If they throw a knife you can shoot them down, if they fire a shot you can blast them away with a howitzer.

Gamers can be divided on the basis of the medium- there are online multiplayer games, CD-based games and mobile handset-based games. Some of the local vendors are looking at not only local gamers but are developing games which would appeal to a global audience. For instance, they have licensed icons like Bruce Lee for building games. There is an outsourcing market also developing for game developers. The potential as usual is huge indet

No certifying authority for games in India

While gamers are keen and local companies are more than willing to provide the wherewithal to develop games locally, problems have cropped up. The biggest is that there is no certification and control over games . Especially, as some of them are violent with pornographic material and sold to underaged users.

In the US, Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), a self-regulatory body, grades games according to their content and the age-group for which they may be suitable. An M rating by ESRB, for instance, makes the game suitable for players 17 years and above. If rated AO, it is for “adults only” - raising the minimum age to 18, and cannot be stocked or sold in malls but only at speciality stores.

The Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in India does not cover entertainment. Even gamers on a LAN party using broadband or cable networks to play multiplayer never-ending games are not regulated. Some of these LAN parties may have sexually-explicit content, but they are not covered under the Cable Network Act or even ISP regulations.


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