Online gaming - one stop shop for entertainment, education and employment

August 17th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Shweta Srinivasan
New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Online games on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s political upheavals, on driving through the crazy streets of Mumbai and on arranging your daughter’s marriage will teach you real life lessons that textbooks never could. Online virtual games are helping an increasing number of youngsters to learn about India’s socio-economic and political problems. What’s more, youngsters can now become gaming testers and make a living off it.

“Education is a boring and sleepy concept. Games on our site like ‘Singh is King’ and ‘Stock Market Suicide’ which feature the prime minister and the finance minister as characters in India’s volatile political arena and economy are making consumers interested in learning about pertinent issues like inflation and farmer suicides,” Amok Kejriwal, founder and CEO of Games2win, told IANS.

“I got calls from consumers asking what was inflation and how the Nandigram issue was an obstacle. That is the impact of such games today,” Kejriwal added.

The online gaming industry in India is said to be worth almost Rs.1.5 billion and is estimated to grow by 30 percent next year. This, according to Kejriwal, makes it a great tool for “edutainment”, a combination of entertainment and education.

“Such online games reach the consumer on a one-on-one basis so they aren’t interrupted or embarrassed to approach not only subjects like inflation but even kissing and bridal games which are considered socially unapproachable in India,” he says.

An Indiatimes.com spokesperson said: “Topical games like those on movies like ‘Lara Croft’ franchise or political events like the trust vote are effective but short-lived. Different categories like those on cricket, shooting or driving games are still preferred from the entrepreneur’s point of view,”

In addition to ‘edutainment’ the industry also offers job opportunities for youngsters.

“We believe in ‘crowd-sourcing’; the crowd helps build the product; feedback is one way and testers are another,” says Kejriwal.

India had 28.37 million Internet users aged 15 years and above in April 2008, according to a report by US-based Internet research firm comScore networks.

About 10 percent of these play online games. This industry, still new to India, provides ample opportunity for youth here to get educated, entertained and employed.

The industry offers job opportunities not only for animators and concept designers but for testers also. These testers can work from home which means they earn a stipend or join as ‘beta’ testers on a pay roll, who play the game, identify glitches, undergo usability testing and provide feedback.

Himanshu Gupta, 23, said: “Testing games is a perfect job for people like me who love gaming. Beta testers can be compared with Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees. A beginner can earn Rs.10,000, with bonus that amounts to Rs.15,000.

“Within a couple of years he can go on to become a manager or team leader, earning Rs.25,000-30,000,” Gupta added.

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