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When the denizens come

Gaming from homes or local cybercafes is passé for mumbaikars, especially in this era when exclusive gaming zones - like Game Sapce in Matunga, Shots in Ghatkopar - have come up in the city. Aalap Deboor has the details.

india Updated: May 04, 2008 21:56 IST

There was a time when gaming was something only a few did, usually in the confines of their homes, or at the local cybercafe. That’s a far cry from now, when exclusive gaming zones — like Game Space in Matunga, Head Quarters in Mulund and Shots in Ghatkopar — have come up in the city, and gamers from a particular area band together to form clans and play tournaments.

For some, even these external spaces are not necessary to get together and compete.

“My computer becomes the server to which several laptops can be connected using LAN wires,” says 20-year-old gamer Rohit Paul, who lives in Sion. Games like CounterStrike, Need For Speed Underground, Quake and Warcraft are popular LAN games in which not just individuals but entire teams compete against one another.

In the gaming world, teams are called ‘clans’. The G-Unit, a Mumbai clan, comprising Gaurav Vora, Gaurav Pariani, Anish Karande, Jai Khilani and Rahul Patel, all 17 year olds, has been together for about a year. All of them from affluent suburban families and have no qualms about spending up to Rs 2,000 on their hobby every month.

Finding time

But with so much of studying, commuting and coping with family expectations to do, how do gamers find time to sit in gaming zones and play for hours on end?

Former LAN player Nimish Khedekar, who lives in Chembur, reminisces about his Class 12 days: “I attended college in the mornings, studied at home in the afternoons and attended tuition classes in the evening. Axis, gaming parlour where I played, happened to be right across the road from my tuition class. Whenever I had a free lecture I went over to play, even if it was just for 10 minutes.”

But not everyone manages to fit in the gaming without compromising on studies. A lot of college students, on the pretext of being in college, spend their time gaming. “That’s because we’d be ruthlessly told off if we came across as newbies because of the lack of practice. So, often, some would skip classes to practice. Studies can happen simultaneously,” says Khedekar.

In fact, gaming can sometimes get quite stressful, with pressure from parents and fellow gamers too. “Our parents don’t encourage gaming, because of which we cannot play regularly and lose precision,” says G-Unit member Khilani.

What next?

The number of local and national tournaments has gone up, definitely a positive sign. But gamers regret not getting sponsorship to participate in these competitions. Gaming can get quite expensive, says Khilani, “It would be good if we could have access to sponsorship money, because buying a mouse, mouse pad and keyboard that is specifically designed for gaming can get quite expensive.”

One of the reasons for this lack of sponsorship is probably that the gaming scene in Mumbai is still nascent, though you may think otherwise. “Computer gaming in Mumbai has just begun picking up pace. If the scene abroad is to be taken into consideration, we’re lagging behind by miles,” says gamer Ankit Pant.

Tournaments

If you think you’re a good gamer, and want in on Mumbai’s gaming scene to battle it out with others, tune into one of the many gaming tournaments held around the city.

Apart from being good entertainment, these tournaments can also mean a lot of money. Local tournaments offer prizes up to Rs 60,000 and national ones ranging from Rs 80,000 to one lakh.

Amar Parekh, a national level gamer, says “My clan Brutality has been part of tournaments like the World Cyber Games, Electronic Sports World Cup and World GameMaster Tournament. You get to learn a lot about the technique of gaming at these competitions.”

Games like Fifa and Counter-Strike are major attractions at these tournaments. “Our clan always participates in the monthly tournaments held at gaming zone NRG, near SNDT College,” says Vora.

And Clan ATE is leaving for Moscow in May to represent India at an international tournament organised by Kreeda. “Indiagames.com is sponsoring our entry into the competition and we’re very excited about it,” says 20-year-old Ridesh Shah.

Reliance ADAG’s gaming portal Zapak also organises tournaments on weekends, at Wadala and Santacruz. Apart from this, gaming competitions are now a regular feature at college festivals.

Starting off

If you’re someone who’s just getting drawn into the world of gaming, gamers recommend starting off at local gaming parlours and learning the basics. From there, you can move on to tournaments.

Gamer Aakash More’s tip for anyone who’s just starting out is, “You must learn to play in a team before you learn to play individually. Almost all games require teams and not just individuals to be playing well.”

Gaming on the go

Mobile gaming is also gaining in popularity, which is why companies like Electronic Arts, Valve, Turtle Rock Studios and Rock Star, have launched cellular versions of their PC games.

With these, all you have to do really need to do is to pair your cell phones using the bluetooth device and play games like Asphalt, Spiderman, WWE Raw and Ghost Reckon against one another.

“When I’m in the bus with a friend, we connect our cell phones via bluetooth and play Asphalt, a popular racing game,” says Vineet Nair.

He adds, “While the graphics do not compare to the computer versions of the game, this kind of gaming on the go has a thrill of its own.”