Hoo 𝘤𝘰𝘳’𝘯𝘦𝘳’a𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘻 𝘩𝘢 𝘤𝘩𝘪, 𝘮𝘢𝘳’𝘯𝘶, 𝘮𝘢𝘳’𝘯𝘶 𝘫𝘭𝘥𝘪’ (Oooo he’s in the corner kill him, kill him fast) shouts a kid at a gamer in his 20s sitting next to him, while playing Freefire, an online game.
“Dinner dinner! Chicken dinner!,” exclaims a teenager busy on his phone playing another online game, PUBG. With his high-pitched voice, the birds there flew the coop in fear.
As twilight strikes, scores of youth of this remote village of Badgam gather on the varandha of desolate building of a Gram Panchayat, just to play various online games, especially PUBG and Free fire. Few hurdle in one corner and others occupying the other one. Online games have made them go gaga. When darkness intensifies, only then, they leave for their homes.
Buzz of online games has surged in recent years. With the introduction of new games like, PUBG, Free fire COD etc, our new generation is inclined towards them abandoning traditional outdoor games. They spend most of their precious time playing these games, and continuously more gamers are switching to online games with each passing day. According to Newzoo reports, there were 2.69 billion gamers in the world by the end of 2020. Growth has been steady, with an average of 5.6% year-on-year (YoY) increase. 2021 figures are forecast to reach 2.81 billion gamers, that will earn the global games market an estimated $189.3 billion.
So in India as per an analyst, India is estimated to touch 657 million gaming users by FY25. Sectoral revenues are projected to increase to Rs 29,000 by FY25 from Rs 13,600 crore in FY21, led by casual gaming. The craze of online game Clash of Clans started dwindling as new games made a huge mark in the global market. PUBG and Free fire both were released in the year 2017. Valley at that time was gradually getting out of turmoil that had hit it in 2016 with the killing of Burhan wani. Mental health was in pitiable state, So people found an escape through these online games.
“Till the winter of 2017 I had no knowledge of any online game. It was in December 2017, when I came to know about an online game ‘Free fire’ through my classmates. It was trending then and even now. I started playing it with much interest. It’s novel to me, but it fascinated me” Said Kamran, a 10th class student. He further added, “The craze of these games is on next level because there are multiplayer games. I myself play Free fire. It connects masses, across the globe. Through mic, we can talk to each other, make friends. We then know about them, they know about us. There is a huge competition among gamers. Everyone wants to achieve more levels, collection etc, than others that’s why almost everyone spends money on this game. One who has more collection is considered a pro player.”Nadeem, his younger brother sometime ago, would spend ‘8 to 9 hours’ on online games. He even has made a YouTube channel where he posts content related to games. Nadeem dreams of becoming a famous YouTuber.
Atif (name changed), an 8th class student, is busy on his phone making calls to his friends to gather in the nearby playground that’s desolate now but gamers in a nearby playground. “When I saw everyone playing these games I too thought to play, but I didn’t have a mobile phone, I persuaded my father to buy one for me. I came up with excuse of online classes, but actually I had to play games. Sometimes I need money to buy new equipments, costume for player etc and I manage the money somehow and I spend that on online games. I sometimes smoke if I lose any game, ” Said, Aatif
Haji Gulam Mohammed looks at the deserted playground and recalls the days when it was thronged by folks. “Those were the days when it was filled with children who would play cricket, volleyball and other outdoor games here. People from different villages would come and watch matches enthusiastically. Since these games were introduced, playgrounds have become haunted places. Playing cricket etc was an exercise for us, but today’s generation doesn’t have time to look outside the window of their homes.
People have given up traditional outdoor games. A few years back, playgrounds were flocked by people. People were much enthusiastic about cricket. They would cheer up for their teams. Excitement was in the atmosphere, but now the same playgrounds are desolate, taken over by garbage and canines.“People have become idle,” said Shabir Ahmed, organiser of cricket tournaments. He started organising cricket tournaments post August 5, when internet was snapped by administration. “I had organised many cricket tournaments post article abrogation. People would come in huge numbers to watch their favorite teams and players. After low internet speed was restored, still I would organise. But as soon as the high speed was restored, all of a sudden playgrounds became deserts. I tried to restore that enthusiasm back,, but I was hapless. Online games have taken over the minds of youth and new generation even doesn’t know much about cricket, ” said Shabir Ahmed
Nasir, an enthusiastic and talented cricketer believes “Anyone can play any online game, it isn’t as fuel consuming as cricket or other outdoor games are. New generation has become sluggish. They don’t want to go in the field. They think it is wastage of time and energy, but they are blindfolded. Furthermore, they don’t understand the fact it’s actually online games that are consuming their precious hours and eroding their mental health.” Young people play online games for 10_12 hours. Afnan, a teenage cricketer and Nasir’s friend, added that most of the guys in my acquaintance remain awake till 2am or sometimes 4am in the morning just to play online games. It’s adversely impacting mental health.
Many suicide cases have been reported across the country related to online games. Mumbai Mirror, in July 2020 , reported that a 13-year-old died by suicide after losing in an online game. He was apparently depressed after losing the combat game, after which he took this step. Another case was reported by India TV. As reported, father had asked his son to eat food and stop playing games. Two brothers argued over this , led to the suicide of the elder brother. A study by Baum et al., (2015) on German-speaking expert gamers revealed “Addicted gamers scored higher on depression, social anxiety and low on all dimensions of quality of life. They also reported gamers being less agreeable, thorough, and emotionally less stable and having severe anger, guilt, and envy.” Another study by Wittek et al. (2015) revealed that video game addiction was also positively associated with neuroticism (negative or anxious emotional state). Heart attacks due to spending excessive time on online games have been reported and that’s worrisome.