Indian democracy has come alive, kicking and fighting in cyberspace.
The multi-crore online gaming industry is betting big on the big fight between the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance. The suspense element thrown up by the presence of the Third Front has only made the game more interesting.
The odds clearly favour the gaming industry as thousands have begun to log on to the politics-inspired games that have made a debut on the web over the last few days. Some 10,000 people clicked the mouse to play Vote Collector, a game devised by the Chennai-based firm Concern Infotech. It is only one of several such online games that are gaining popularity as the election heat picks up.
In this game, for a player to win he or she has to race the chosen leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or BJP and NDA prime ministerial candidate LK Advani to victory on a track that snakes through all the states. Obstacles erupt along the marathon in the form of regional chieftains like a Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh or a Sharad Pawar flexing his muscles in Maharashtra.
Mayawati and Jayalalitha, too, have been given prominent roles. These two heavyweights also challenge the prime ministerial candidates of the two main political formations.
“To make this game more realistic we have tried to take inspiration from the Indian political system. Players can take their leader to victory by making him jump and duck and by fighting these regional leaders using keyboard controls to reach the destination, New Delhi, the symbol of power”, said Ishrat Akhter, the brain behind the Vote Collector series and CEO of Concern Infotech .
“Earlier, such games were played in West, but now they are becoming popular in India as well. Some players even call us to suggest the inclusion of their local leader's names and caricatures in the game,” Akhter told Hindustan Times over phone from Chennai.
Another game has the UPA and NDA teams, led by Manmohan Singh and Advani, respectively, in a tug of war. Then, there is another one in which the leaders are furiously pedalling away on their cycles in a velodrome that resembles Parliament House.
With senior political leaders taking to web campaigning, its only natural for online gaming industry to cash in. “It is the best suited opportunity,” Akhter said.
Three days ago, Hyderabad-based 7Seas Technologies Limited launched five games having Singh, Advani and Mayawati. The company’s managing director, L Maruti Sanker, said his team invested Rs 5 lakh on each of the games named ‘Who Wins’, Vote Fun, Vote a Leader and Political War I, Political War II, which they developed over 90 days.
Online gaming freaks are getting an education in political science too.
“ I was a political greenhorn, but a few games later, I have become familiar with the activities of many politicians like Mayawati and others. I have started using these games as a medium to teach my students about the election process,” said Amandeep Singh Chema, a computer teacher in Mullapur Village School near Ludhiana.