It seems gaming is as old as humans. Believe it or not, India too has a long history with games – There is evidence that Dice was played in the Indus Valley civilization and, by the Vedic age, it had become a sacred ritual to determine if the emperor was blessed with intelligence or luck or both. With time this passed down to the people as games got intertwined with culture, tradition and behavior. Games entertained people across castes, gender and age. India became home to all kinds of board games – those that are totally dependent on luck (such as snakes and ladders), those that mix luck with skill (such as dice or chausar) and those that are based totally on skill (such as chess).
Even the tradition of playing cards around Diwali and gambling money has lived to see the light of the day. According to legend, Goddess Parvati played dice with Lord Shiva and declared that those who gambled on the night of Diwali would prosper throughout the year.
Gaming is a part of India’s cultural fabric.
No surprise then, that India now features among the top five online mobile-gaming countries. Approximately 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India in 2019 – the highest in the world. This number has drastically gone up during the lockdown as people confined to their homes turn to gaming as a perfect pandemic pastime to escape reality. In fact, in a conversation with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in February 2020, Mukesh Ambani concurred - Gaming could be bigger than music, movies and TV shows combined!
Industry experts widely cite three reasons for this peculiar rate of growth: (1) cheaper smartphones, (2) better internet connectivity, and most significantly, (3) the digital wallet – which allows for immediate withdrawal of winnings, payment of entry fees and making in-game purchases. These reasons have democratized access, turning gaming into an egalitarian pursuit.
Growth in demand has led to a kaleidoscope of variety. This has propelled India in to one of the largest gaming markets in the world. As of January, 2020 Indians spent over three hours a week on gaming. This number has only increased during the lockdown. There has never been a better time to be a gamer, or associate with the gaming industry.