Console gaming is no doubt gaining popularity, but users are hooked on casual gaming because of its accessibility and affordability, says Vishnupriya Bhandaram

Rijoy Sen (50) recalls playing Super Mario late in the night, when he was 38 and father of two girls. A week ago, he purchased Diablo 3, and competes with his teenaged daughters. The transition from the second generation video-gaming of Tetris and Galaga to the exciting world of Skyrim has been smooth, says Rijoy. Gaming has no age, but one can say that the younger and tech-savvy generation enjoys an easier entry into the world of warcraft, wizardry and combat. Refuting this statement is Tata Consultancy Services’ report on Generation Web 3.0, a survey of around 12,300 high school students aged between 12 and 18. The report has found that the younger generation in Indian cities is tech-savvy and has a strong presence online. According to the report, there is an emergent category of ‘gadgetphiles’ who aspire to have access to the latest technology and gadgets, including gaming consoles.

Ravi Bhaktula, a 15-year-old student, who aspires to be a game developer, has been playing online for the past five years and has an enviable score on his online profile. He shyly admits to having a few gaming fans online as well. While full-fledged console gaming has a serious following, the phenomenon of social gaming is beginning to see the light of day thanks to the penetration of social networking and convergent ideas — you play, chat and ‘poke’ your friends at the same time. Casual gaming is a growing trend. A popular culture of web and social gaming has evolved over the years, with phrases such as ‘why play alone’ floating around as taglines. The idea of playing virtually but in real time and perhaps with other ‘real’ people sounds exciting.

Local flavours introduced into the games have created a definite following for online social games. A popular app on the iPad, Draw Something, lets you doodle with your Facebook friends, or create an account and play with other people or pairs you with random people.

Catching on

Casual gaming is catching on, especially since the all-inclusive handsets are becoming more accessible and affordable. According to the TCS survey, a whopping 79 per cent of the respondents owned mobile phones and found time to access the Internet. According to the FICCI-KPMG reports on New Media and Entertainment, a large number of apps downloaded on smartphones (iOs and Android) are games. When it comes to PCs, the burgeoning popularity of social networking sites is helping games to gain massive popularity. Social networking games are gaining traction as a new form of gaming. “I am not into big-time gaming, but I play an occasional game of rummy on Facebook. I used to be addicted to Farmville, I am glad I am not any more, but it’s good to play once in a while,” Another ‘ville’ fan, Rishabha Cherukupalli plays ‘Fishville’ ardently. It’s interesting to note that Fishville has about 9,30,000 monthly users. “I have a collection of aquarium add-ons, I am leading my group right now,” adds Rishabha. Because it quintessentially involves community gaming, social gaming gives a sense of pride too.