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Zip across a virtual Mumbai

business Updated: Jan 31, 2008 01:54 IST
Kiran Wadhwa

You are standing at a traffic signal, waiting for the lights to change, as a local train pulls past Charni Road station. Just as the light turns green and you step on the gas, a beggar runs across the road. You hit him. Apart from going to jail, you lose 100 points.

Welcome to the racing tracks of Streets of Mumbai, the first online game to be set on the city’s roads, geared for a worldwide release in March.

The boom in the Indian gaming industry, which crossed the $50 million (Rs 200 crore) mark, is demanding indigenous themes and Mumbai seems to be making a head start.

“In places like Korea, where the gaming industry has crossed the $2 billion (Rs 8,000 crore) mark, the most popular games have local characters and themes,” said Sangam Gupta, head of Trine Game Studios that designed Streets of Mumbai. “India will soon follow this trend and what better place to start than the streets of Mumbai?”

The studio has signed up with a US publisher and the company is creating a Playstation version as well. The tracks are replicas of the city roads, with landmarks like Wilson College on Marine Drive and Inorbit Mall at Malad. “We used Google Earth to map our tracks and got photographs of the roads. These were then re-created as 3D images,” said Gupta.

The game will be quintessentially Mumbai with beggars, stray dogs, dug up roads and the civic body’s ‘Sorry for the Inconvenience’ signs. The final local touch comes with Baba Sehgal and Sharon Prabhakar hip-hopping in the background.

Companies like TIPS are also looking at the game as a viable business option. “A game on Mumbai will be very popular. So far Indians have played games based in other countries but imagine racing on a track near your college campus,” said Rajiv Sogani, senior vice president, TIPS.