Monday, November 26, 2012

Gaining Control - Postnoon Hyd Article

Postnoon Hyderabad had contacted  for an article on women in gaming.
Click here for the article.

Posting the same here:

Looking at the big push toward mobile gaming and casual gaming and what’s happening with the Nintendo Wii, women are slowly entering the gaming industry. Their numbers are few but there is hope for change.

Female representation in the creative industries has always been a topic for debate. Take the gaming industry in India for example. It has predominantly been a male-dominated one. So much so that hearing of a women gamer or developer in India has been few and far in between. We spoke with two women from the industry to know of where women stand in this field.
Purnima Iyer, game designer at Knowledge Adventure India (Bangalore) and Co-founder at Pinaka Interactive (Navi Mumbai) gives us an insight. On the industry she says it is a fledgling one. “It is great, still growing and has a long way to go. Innovation and quality is what we need to focus on. We should help each other out, share knowledge, promote and grow together,” she says. Numerous questions come to mind talking about women in the gaming industry, ‘Is the profession suitable for women? What are the timings? What about male co-workers, family etc…?’
Answering all these questions, Moumita Paul, a game designer at Lakshya, Pune says, “This profession has a lot of potential for women. There is a whole lot of different things to be done and not just gaming. There is testing, designing, production and developing and women can be a part of all this. Women have a flair for the creative, however, production has its limitations in terms of family because of the long hours.” Purnima adds that most companies do have flexible hours and work-from-home options.
For Moumita, getting into the industry was met with opposition from her mum who was concerned for her. Her mother stopped speaking with her, but Moumita persisted and finally won her over.
On the behaviour of men in this industry, Purnima says, “It can be quite subjective, some do some don’t.” But Moumita feels otherwise, “At least at work, men are very welcoming and supportive as there are very few enterprising women. In fact, most of them are surprised that a woman could be part of the programming or developing.”
But the bone of the contention still remains the portrayal of women. Moumita who is also an avid gamer, agrees that mostly women are given sexy avatars in games.
“Women are mainly designed to be hot and sexy as that’s how the men prefer them to be.” Purnima adds, “There are games which portray women as the damsel in distress who has to be rescued by the male protagonist; but then that is the case with most fairy tales too! There are games where the women are portrayed as equals. Whether they are the protagonist (Lara Croft, Bayonetta) or feature as a supporting protagonist (Half-Life 2). Many RPG (Role-playing Game) and RTS (Real-Time-Strategy) games give you the option of creating a woman character and building woman units respectively. Then of course is the question of objectifying and sexualising the women. To that, we have games like Portal where the playable character Chell, was not sexualised.”
But what both women seem to agree is on the lack of awareness and false concepts regarding a career in this field. At the NASSCOM Game Developer’s Conference this year in Pune the Women in games panel, announced the formation of a Women in Games Special Interest Group, which will help attract more women to the field. Moumita advises that all the women out there who are looking for a chance should do their research first and then enter this field. Half-baked notions can be dangerous.

'Let the Games Begin' - Indian Express Article

Somehow missed posting this here...

Indian Express did a coverage of the Indie game studios in India. We (Pinaka Interactive) got a teeny tiny mention too ^_^

Click here for the article.

The article is super big. So just posting my two cents that was printed/published:

“Startups are probably sprouting even as we speak,” says Purnima Iyer, who runs a game design consultancy, Pinaka Interactive, along with Deepti Raavi, in Navi Mumbai. “With mobile game development becoming so easy, everyone I know seems to be starting their own company.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Locked in the Digital World

Firstly I'm gonna start with the usual sentence: It's been a long time since I posted something here.Had too many reasons. Work,laziness, shifting bases et all.

Anyways, coming back to the topic in hand, I was just wondering how much technology has influenced our life.

Few basic examples:
  • My handwriting has become really bad as nowadays I use the PC to type anything down instead of a paper and pen.
  • It has become harder to spell while trying to recall something in mind. The spell check options in the PC has been taking care of it for quite some time now.
While the advantages have been that things get done faster. The search feature is a blessing!! But it's quite interesting because before the PC addiction came into my life, I was doing perfectly fine without them. And it's just now that I'm used to it, I find it harder without these features.

So then the question comes down to whether technology is bad? Definitely not. We are doing everything to make it easier for the future. And we are at a better place because of the technological advancements in so many areas of life. But somewhere down the line we miss the fun we had before it. I'm particularly focusing on game design.

I've never done a board game prototype or pen-paper prototype officially in my career. Right from the beginning of my career, I have been sucked into the digital world. As my career progressed, I got better with various tools. Someone prefers X someone prefers Y. Depending on who you work with you learn one of it or all. I had to take conscious efforts to improve myself within my field: Game Design!

Even today, I prefer a board game to a video game. The interaction with friends and family sitting around the table playing. One may say that it ain't a fair comparison. But for me, if I've time to spare and these are the choices I'm given, I would take the board game any day.

I remember doing some non-digital challenges with a few game design / game design enthusiast friends. Unfortunately for various reasons, we couldn't really continue with it. But whatever we did, it was fun! 

I feel the basics help me grow as a game designer. Understanding game-play, game balancing, interaction and much more. Nowadays even the simpler digital methods are not enough. You have to be continuously updated. While I have no qualms in doing that, I easily get drawn to simpler methods. Simpler methods are usually the hardest. The more tools you have access to, the more dependent you are on them. While it makes development easier, I would go on to say to keep the simpler methods going on the side.

And I highly recommend the book: Challenges for Game Designers (non-digital exercises for video game designers) - By Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber.

I hope one day we have a perfect merge of both worlds...

Monday, May 7, 2012

SQUARE-ENIX Game Development Contest India 2012

Always wanted to make a game? Here's your chance!
Square-Enix, the developers and publishers of series like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom of Hearts,  Batman, Hitman etc are organizing a Game Development Contest in India!

Please visit their website for more details.

This contest is open for all! Companies, Students, Individuals, Freelancers, Indies...ALL!
They also are planning to have a matchmaking facility to enable a member to look for another from a different field of expertise and help form a team.
You are free to submit multiple entries, have any number of ppl in your team, be part of multiple teams as well.

Don't let go of this awesome opportunity!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Figuring" it out!

Projected Value, Projected Profit, Estimated Growth, Rate of Growth of Industry etc etc
Graphs, Pie Charts, Box charts, Venn Diagrams...
Years, Companies, Gaming, Mobile, Smartphones, Consoles, PC...

These are what I find while reading some reports that covers the gaming industry or in general too. However, for the love of God, I can't figure out how they figure out the figures! (May be my brains just won't tap into this area for some reason?)

And I don't mean it sarcastically. I really have no clue. There have been many instances when I've been approached by people asking me about figures related to the gaming industry. And I've always fumbled. I can't even remember the figures from existing reports and sometimes I don't even know if I relate to them or if it makes sense to me. Ah well!

So I decided to "figure" it out!
Ya, well.. I thought I was making a Venn Diagram to show how much I understand figures... But my hand slipped while drawing the second circle and this is what I ended up making! 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Gaming: Enter the male bastion - TOI Bangalore Article

TOI Bangalore had contacted me for an article on women in gaming. Considering the fact that it's always the Bangalore newspapers that contact me, I think I should shift base there! :P

Click here for the article.

Posting the article here. Colored my quotes.

Gaming blows these girls away 
Narayanan Krishnaswami TNN

Bangalore: Nehal Shah is a twentysomething independent design researcher.She is also a level 67 Tauren Druid in Blizzards Massively Multiplayer Online blockbuster,World of Warcraft,and a gamer for the last 12 years.
Shah says she spends two to three hours everyday gaming and spends at least a thousand rupees a month on her hobby.Shah is one of a very rare breed,the female Indian gamer.Worldwide,women make up 40% of the gaming public.In India,that number of those who identify themselves as gamers is almost non-existent.Mehr Singh is a film student in Pune.I just dont get why women dont game,I really dont think its because games are marketed more towards males.I grew up with gaming--we started off with those ancient consoles that used cartridges and I have always enjoyed it, she says.

Gaming: enter the male bastion
Bangalore: Mehr spent most of her second year of film studies two to six hours daily playing Defence of the Ancients in a nearby gaming parlour.I was introduced to DoTA by a bunch of my friends all guys,though,and I was blown away, she says.

Pradipta Sarkar,27,is an editor in a New Delhi publishing house.She doesnt have a console,but she says she loves playing games whenever she has access to one.I go to my friends places when I want to play and I play for hours at a time. Pradipta believes buying a game console is simply not on the radar of women consumers. I like to play,but I'm not willing to spend Rs 30,000 on a gaming console,"she says.

Purnima Iyer is the co-founder of Pinaka Interactive,a Mumbai-based game and app design company.She says there could be several reasons for the low numbers of women gamers in India.The expenditure may not be supported by the family,the friend circle may not be involved in gaming,and some have the notion that gaming is for men and women playing games are looked down upon or even called irresponsible.Plus,not many games are women friendly and tend to have strong stereotypes that are oriented towards men,like violence,gore and skimpily-clad women.

Purnima says there are things about gaming behaviour that she finds irritating which may put off other women gamers. In a MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) context,when you walk in as a female avatar,firstly they assume you are a cross-dresser.Once you make them realize thats not the case,they get all lovey-dovey.While this can be advantageous for some (many quest items can be easily retrieved),it gets really troublesome.They rarely call you for a raid etc,just because they assume you cant play as well as a guy! 

The gaming industry,which has always been a male bastion,believes that a game with a female as a main character will suffer in terms of sales unless she is skimpily clad and improbably endowed as in the early iterations of Lara Croft or the more recent Bayonetta.Stereotypes like these have perpetuated the association of videogames with male adolescents.

There have been attempts within the industry to change this.Lara Crofts latest avatar shows her realistically proportioned and giving up her very short shorts for a sensible pair of jeans.Mass Effects advertising now shows Commander Shepard as a woman in armor."Things are changing for good",agrees Purnima. "But sometimes,it's fun to play as a male character like in GTA".