Online Skill Gaming: Boon; Not Bane – Times of India

Online skill gaming has undergone a sea change in the past and it continues to make rapid progress with internet penetration in the remotest of locations. A KPMG – Google study conducted in May 2017 predicted that by the year 2021, the gamer base in India will more than double to reach 310 million. But a zillion misconceptions continue to make people indecisive whether online skill gaming is a boon or a bane.
Most people believe that online skill games have ill effects on children and are a waste of time. On the contrary, these games help in children’s development if they limit playing them for just a few minutes (10 minutes for kids aged 3 and 30 minutes for 6-year-olds) every day, according to research. Designed for fun and to give an exciting experience, online skill games have become more than just a leisure activity. They test your skills and require quick decision-making. Kids often get a sense of achievement after a win and that helps them gain self-confidence.
To clear some air about gaming and its pros and cons, the most recent webinar of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) under its campaign “Game for Future,” in association with The Times of India and Vijay Karnataka, continued insightful discussions around topics such as fairplay, addiction, mental health and career prospects.

The webinar moderated by Mr. Narayanan Krishnaswamy, editor with the Times Group, had on the panel a diverse group of experts including, Ms. Fatema Agarkar (Founder, Agarkar Centre of Excellence (ACE)), Mr. Vamshi Krishna (Co-founder and CTO, YesGnome), Mr. Samay Raina (Indian chess streamer, YouTuber, Stand-up Comedian), Ms. Astha Ahluwalia (Therapist & Mental Wellbeing Trainer, Chief Psychologist & Partner – Reboot Wellness), and Mr. Roland Landers (CEO, AIGF).
Sighting example of online education being seen as something bad, Fatema said, “Virtual engagements have been around since the 1900s. It’s not a new thing. It’s only in 2000 that some progressive schools around the world began blended learning. Looking ahead, the generation in 2080 will deal with technology whether it’s learning, recreation or entertainment in ways that our generation never did.”

Ms. Fatema Agarkar (Founder, Agarkar Centre of Excellence (ACE)

Fatema added, “As parents, as regulators and as educators we need to understand that the world has changed. The games give us input where the child is reacting to a particular move. So, these games are adding on and not taking away anything. Gamification and e-sports are now a part of their world. Let’s now encourage it and not resist it. Instead find solutions and regulate it because the resistance has caused enough challenges. One of the solutions is that the families must take more responsibility and not just leave it to the game companies.”
She concluded by saying, “Educators are very excited about gamification because it allows every child to participate, which in the real world is difficult to achieve.”
Every technology has both good and bad aspects and so does gaming. Talking on how people can address the cons of online skill gaming that cause concern, Astha said, “One-third of the gamers are below the age of 18 and this is the time when the brain has not developed as much which increases the chances to have a greater or a long-term impact. Addiction impacts your daily functioning so it’s important to have time limits. But what is more important is to have healthy associations and healthy engagements within ones’ environment, be it friends or family. Also, engaging in a variety of activities both physical and social will help.”


Ms. Astha Ahluwalia (Therapist & Mental Wellbeing Trainer, Chief Psychologist & Partner – Reboot Wellness)

Talking about the career opportunities that online skill gaming brings with it, Vamshi quoted a number of jobs one could take up according to one’s capabilities, talents and interests, he said, “If you are able to play the game well, then you could be a streamer or gamer. If you are pretty good at development and coding you could be a game designer. If you are good in art, you could be a 2D or 3D artist. If you think you are good in engineering and can code well, you can be a game developer. If you think you are good at testing, where you can pinpoint at a problem and tell that this is not the right way to do something, then you can be a tester. If you think you are good at stats and mathematics, you can be an analyst. If you think you can manage a team and be a good communicator then you can be a game producer.”

Mr. Vamshi Krishna (Co-founder and CTO, YesGnome)

Samay thinks gaming does not lead to an addiction and it is parents who need to establish stronger bond with their children so the child has more things to look up to. Talking on the implications of e-sports that will witness a boom in the future, he said, “Isolation is a problem so one needs to meet people and make social contact. The youth will always rebel and you have to support them by proper communication. Being a streamer, I think there are a lot of opportunities not just in gaming and streaming- you can be a designer, a developer, and many other things.”

Mr. Samay Raina (Indian chess streamer, YouTuber, Stand-up Comedian)

Commenting on the larger role of AIGF in terms of regulation, Roland said, “There are 260 million gamers on various platforms and that is increasing substantially, based on what the industry is showing at the moment. And there are 100+ gaming platforms and most of them are members of AIGF, and the industry as you know is self-regulated. Our members, stakeholders are governed by what we call the AIGF skill games charter and that charter has certain sub sections that I would like to mention here. The platforms have to mention the name of the grievance redressal office. In terms of legality, the “pay to play” would only be offered to people above the age of 18. If you look at the transparency and disclosures, members have to publish the AIGF charters very clearly on their websites and platforms. Members set daily, or weekly or monthly limits to deposits. There is also focus on how to game responsibly. There is a time out facility. A gamer can choose to self-exclude and then the platform will remove the name and details of the player. So, these are some of the things that the gaming platforms have to implement.”

Mr. Roland Landers (CEO, AIGF)

Over the past decade, researchers have started to acknowledge the benefits of online gaming irrespective of the gamer’s age, along with the many cons associated with it. Strict laws, stringent measures by gaming companies to handle the increasing traffic in this space, along with a bit of personal discipline and discretion on the part of the gamer will go a long way in making online skill gaming a boon and not a bane to society.

Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Times – Red Cell by Mediawire team.

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Sagar Biswas

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