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Net game fever catches urban youth
Aabhas Sharma and Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi | November 11, 2006
There's a rage that's fast catching up with young, urban Indians. Computer and Internet gaming are finding a growing number of takers, especially as young converts make sure to stock the latest titles for their Xbox and playstations.
There's NFS or Need for Speed, a popular car racing game that has recently been launched in its latest avatar with improved graphics and even more complicated twists and turns.
Then there's FIFA '06, another top-of-the-line basketball game that is becoming a favourite with people. And if you thought that these were the only ones available in the market, you're so wrong.
Thanks to the increasing number of Xbox gaming enthusiasts in India, (superstar Shah Rukh Khan is just one of them), players like Microsoft and EA Sports are bringing out console and PC games. For the uninitiated, console games are those you play on the X Box, while PC games are those that can be played on your regular computer.
The choices of gaming titles available in India is growing by the day and in India, according to experts, game-based titles (basketball, cricket and car racing titles) are a big hit, followed by film and adventure games.
"The console gaming culture is still fairly new to Indians. Since sports is a familiar area, games like sports car racing and shooting are gaining tremendous popularity," says an EA Sports spokesperson.
Strategy games, or those in which the player is put in fictitious situations, are yet to find takers, even though games like Age of Empires and House of Dead continue to remain favourite titles with a majority of youngsters.
In the sports-based games category, we suggest you pick up the latest titles of NBA, NHL and games that revolve around golf and cricket.
EA Sports, for instance, has about 30 titles covering PC, PS2, PSP, and X360 platforms. Our pick: Need for Speed Most Wanted, Cricket 2005 and FIFA 2006 World Cup.
The prices for these games start at an affordable Rs 199 but go up to Rs 2,999. Children are queuing up for movie-based games like Spiderman, Matrix, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
These are PC games and the price tags are Rs 199 for older titles and Rs 1,299 for the newer ones. Some of these titles are also available as console games and the price here is between Rs 1,999 to Rs 2,999.
In fact, Electronic Arts recently announced the launch of EA Sports' Cricket '07 that will be available worldwide for PlayStation2 and PC players by early November 2006.
"This is the cricket game for ardent and casual cricket gamers alike," says Justin Forrest, producer, EA (Canada). He adds, "Because of the game's intricate details, gamers will experience the authentic drama of cricket without actually walking down the pavilion steps."
"Indian gamers are ready for the various genres of games across racing, sports, action and adventure," says Mohit Anand, country manager, Microsoft's gaming and devices division.
Xbox 360's entry into the Indian market has, in fact, given birth to a new generation of console gamers, testing and making peace with international titles. Among recent entrants into the real-time strategy game arena (PC side) has been Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War -- Dark Crusade.
The game introduces two interesting and powerful new factions to Dawn of War (2004 edition), raising the total number of different playable armies to seven. It also features a new strategic campaign structure that lets you direct any of these seven sides in a massive war for planetary supremacy.
"Some new units for the returning factions and plenty of new skirmish maps are also included, and you do not even need to own Dawn of War or its first expansion pack to enjoy most of this," says Gordon Fernandes, a 25-year-old console gamer (who also runs an online gaming community). These titles are available for Rs 1,000 upwards.
Microsoft has also launched Top Spin 2, a tennis game where you play on Wimbledon or Roland Garros courts and become a "virtual" Rafael Nadal or even Roger Federer to beat your opponents.
There's also Dead or Alive 4, a fight game which displays fascinating images and a variety of weapons. In EA Sports' FIFA'06, you can be Wayne Rooney and win the World Cup for England in the virtual world.
With Xbox and other gaming consoles getting installed in a majority of Indian homes, the rules of entertainment are changing. And with interesting gaming titles gaining popularity, it's not surprising then that youngsters are getting cooped in their rooms, cracking games plots and adding more titles to their collection.