I am a 21 year-old commerce student and recently appeared for my Class XII exams. I’ve been an active gamer for the past five or six years. I have also been part of a number of clans (gamers who participate as a team in tournaments).
I specialise in Counter Strike and usually spend at least seven hours at a stretch each day playing it. However, last year, with great difficulty, I reduced this to four hours to prepare for my exams. I hadn’t appeared for the exams on two previous occasions because I had been gaming and not studying. I would have failed had I taken them.
My parents were very worried. They want me to become a chartered accountant. The first time I opted out of the exams, I promised them I wouldn’t do it again. But these games are addictive. Many of us are so involved that almost all our friends are gamers. It wasn’t long before I was in an internet café playing.
Most of us play at such cafés. We bunk our classes and meet at these cafés, away from our parents’ prying eyes. There are different monthly and daily membership schemes and I end up spending around Rs 6,000 every month. Every weekend we participate in tournaments held across Mumbai.
There are many gamers who are in their thirties and still haven’t cleared their college exams. They are good players, but people think of them as losers. It is different abroad. I saw the gaming culture in Canada a few years ago. There are big gaming companies and even colleges organise tournaments. Some players make successful careers of gaming.
But here, you need to be able to wean yourself away from it at some point. Otherwise you’ve had it. I see many young children—some eight or nine years old—at these cafés now, playing for hours. One should restrict children’s entry here. At least at home, their gaming habits can be monitored.
(This gamer is a resident of Navi Mumbai)
As told to Lhendup G Bhutia