DaIlyPost 1823

Whether we can call Gaming a multi-headed hydra or not, only time will decide. Every technology is a double edged sword and the response to it decides which turn it would take. My brush with the gravity of  this came forth when it found its own way to be a topic of the Bangalore Cyber Security Awareness Initiative. The digital immersion age with the onset of COVID-19 has certainly set the odds against setting it right. With life going fully online, what time a youth or a child spends on Gaming is very difficult to fathom out. With the broken schooling system on the one hand and non-digital parental control on the other, it is disheartening to see that we have left the young ones on their own, to fend for themselves.

Neither do we discuss these issues nor can we bring any transparency and with ubiquitous internet and games available on the fly for free, things would keep getting more difficult. The gaming technology has become more enticing than ever before and technical finesse can  just blow your mind. While not denying some skill also comes into play, today Gaming is an industry to reckon with and it cannot be wished away. It is a tech challenge which has  to  be met with. Sermons and lamenting cannot take us anywhere. Banning as a tool has never worked to our social advantage and given the nature of the digital world, one cannot even hope it to be successful. There are skins within skins in the digital world.

The tech prowess behind this industry we would find even difficult to imagine. Cloud streaming gaming has taken it to a totally different level. Social games remain enormously popular, with almost 2.5 billion active video players. India is the fifth largest gaming market in the world. Gaming is at times being equated with gambling. Consideration, risk and prize are the main elements of gambling. Gaming theoretically, is a game of skill. ”Technology has also brought the convergence of gambling and gaming over the past decade.” The migration is very clear in the form of ”loot boxes,” simulated social casino games, or e-sports. There is a clear cut intersection between gambling and gaming.

”Hybrid gambling activities have adopted features of gaming and vice versa.” Based on old antiquated laws and an enforcement mechanism which is  not in tune with the times, the battle for an effective regulatory mechanism, seems to be a pipedream. The social cost being paid is huge and so is the loss of productive time and focus on education and other related skills, which are essential for human growth. While 7-8% cross the medical barrier into addiction, the vast majority of around 90% remain in the grey area. Regulation, social control and transparency would be of immense help for them. Then gaming companies perforce, would behave in a responsible manner. The first cut is still to happen.


Sanjay Sahay

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