A government task force has recommended that online and video games be developed using Indian epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, and iconic Indian films such as Sholay and Bahubali as plot inspirations, according to documents seen by HT.
The recommendation has been made by a sub task force formed by the Union information and broadcasting ministry to explore ways in which India’s animation, visual effects, gaming and comic (AVGC) sector can be boosted.
Headed by I&B ministry joint secretary Vikram Sahay, it suggests “applied games may be included in the school curriculum, and financial incentives may be provided for enterprises developing educational games.”
“A survey of applied game applications across various sectors may be conducted, and avenues for international demand for applied games may also be explored,” it adds.
The ministry has launched a series of online games called the Azadi Quest as part of its Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav campaign to mark 75 years of Indian Independence. This includes a series of online educational mobile games developed in collaboration with Zynga India, which aims to capture the Indian freedom struggle.
The government is also working on a parallel legislation to regulate the online gaming sector, which may require a new central law to standardise the approach towards such aggregators in future.
The task force’s plan is meant to unlock the potential of “stories in Indian literature”, which, it adds, can be done by looking at the Vedas and Upanishads as well. “Stories from the life of Buddha and Mahavira; Sangam Literature epics such Silappadikaram, Manimekalai; writings of the great Kalidasa such as Kumārasambhava, Abhijnanashakuntalam; and many more. Epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata have already seen great success as television shows. Games based on such epics have the potential to transform India into a hub of MMORPGs (online role-playing video games) which have seen great success in the international market,” the report submitted in July states.
To do this, the ministry of culture can be roped in to ensure “digital and authentic resources of Indian literature” are used.
“Similar approach may also be adopted in respect of historical and folklore-based narratives. A soft touch approach may be followed with regard to the cultural sensitivities of the content involving religious figures, historical characters, etc.”
Also part of the ministry’s plans is an annual Gaming Expo. “Indian delegations may participate in various global gaming events. Gaming Startup Fests may be organised for showcasing innovation and providing a collaboration platform for gaming startups,” states the report.
It also recommends engagement with the film and entertainment industry through sharing of “insights, intellectual property, building games for iconic films, and attracting global game studios to tap into Indian stories”.
“A film, web-series or similar entertainment content is essentially a story with multiple characters, situations, and challenges. Successful films may be transformed into games through a dedicated mechanism of cooperation between the entertainment and gaming industry. Examples may include strategy games based on popular movies such as Sholay, Bahubali,” the report says.
To develop these games, the ministry recommends that a pool of mentors be established through industry associations working with the I&B ministry’s and media and entertainment skill council to incentivise gaming professionals and companies to mentor young talent.
This will include the identification of global gaming mentors and utilising the experience of the various schemes of the ministry of skill development & entrepreneurship. “List of mentors, along with their brief profiles may be made available on a dedicated website. The mentors may be categorised based on mentees i.e. students in schools and colleges, young professionals working in the industry, and startup founders,” the report adds.
As far as mentorship in schools is concerned, the task force proposed utilising the network of Atal Tinkering Labs and encouraging after-school mentorship programmes by gaming companies.
“Mentorship at college/university level may be conducted through introduction of degree programs in proposed and existing educational institutions; diploma courses in gaming through open learning; integration of gaming curriculum within the computer science and allied engineering courses; MoUs between industry and educational institutions for mentorship and internship programs; MoUs between Indian and acclaimed foreign institutions for exchange programs and mentorship by foreign academia and foreign industry professionals; and curation of knowledge banks for conducting Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs),” it adds.
It has also suggested engagement between global technology vendors and Indian gaming industry associations; and access to technology from international gaming companies in exchange for patents may be encouraged.
“The government, in collaboration with industry, may develop an open-source stack for game development. Sharing of technology may be encouraged through establishment of gaming startup hubs and platforms for technology sharing,” the report states.
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