I love video games. I suppose I always have. Growing up in the early years of economic liberalisation in India, you took your first steps into the world of gaming on bootlegged consoles, manufactured by local companies that had cropped up all over the country to meet the demands of a large population with growing purchasing power and aspirations to live the life their relatives “abroad” and the stars of their movies did, all the while the companies that actually manufactured those consoles scrambled to set up shop in the nation. My earliest memory of gaming is playing Contra and Super Mario on one of these bootlegged “NES,” plugging in those “99999 in 1” game cartridges and setting up the system on those huge CRT television sets that took up an entire corner of your living room.
I am telling my age, aren’t I?
Well, kids, playing video games for as long as I have teaches you a lot of things, especially if you are interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff – how they are made (the tools and technologies that go into making a game and how they evolve over time), the politics of it (because, as with everything else in life, there is politics involved here as well), the economics of the gaming industry (and how it, at times, becomes the primary driving force for innovation) – which, I suppose, you become at least tangentially aware of if you stick with a particular hobby long enough. But, perhaps more than that, it teaches you to see that hobby differently. You learn to notice and appreciate the craft behind it. You learn to see video games as art.
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