Gaming scenario in Bangladesh has evolved from arcade gaming to computer and console gaming. Now is the time of online-based multiplayer games. Competitive gaming is gaining popularity among the youths, opening a huge field for game development. Young game developers think that there is lack of training facilities for those who want to take this as their career, writes Riasat Raihan
‘VIDEO games help you to escape from a boring and tiresome day. Playing as the made-up character and getting into it helps to forget about everything else,’ this is the response of Shimanto Noman, a senior year student at a private university in Dhaka when he is asked to mention one reason for playing video games.
His friend, Sayed Abid Reza, however, is into this hobby for entirely another reason. ‘Video games give the gamers a sense of accomplishment. The feeling when you complete a game is something beyond explanation. Some story games are written so vividly that we gamers feel like we are living in that world. We feel important, like we have done something right’ he says.
A member of that group who is quiet during the entire conversation, who happen to have participated in 10 professional gaming competitions winning six of them under the name The Hail Raiser, speaks up now, ‘In competitive games, we scream, we divulge our rage. It’s another healthy way of getting rid of frustration.’
Over the centuries we have gravitated towards experiences that make us feel more competent, more autonomous and more related. Even though work, school and family can fulfil those core needs but yet video games are more captivating thus a huge number of urban youths of Bangladesh, who are from comparatively economically stable families, often indulge into video gaming as their favourite pastime and some even take it as profession.
Video game has been around since 1970s. At that time consoles like Atari was very famous. Slowly, Nintendo, SEGA and SONY joined the market and introduced their gaming systems.
To understand the present gaming scenario of Dhaka city, New Age Youth contacted passionate and hobbyist gamers as well as professional gamers and game developers.
In the context of Bangladesh, video gaming is a new chapter. Despite of that, gaming has been the best recreational event for a large number of youths who spent their childhood in urban areas.
The first computer game developed and released in Bangladesh is ‘Dhaka Racing’. The demo version of the game was released in March, 2002 and commercially full version was launched in January 2003. From then the practise of developing game got a kick start though the trend could never reach its peak here for a number of obstacles and conditions.
In December 16, 2015 Mindfisher Inc released a game entitled ‘Heroes of 71’ which was funded by Information and Communication Technology Ministry. From 2016, the gaming industry got re-birth. Many software developers and IT companies have shown their interest to participate in this market to advent the growth of the industry.
In the early 2000s, technology was not as advanced as it is today and not many youths would have gaming consoles at their homes so corner arcades of the neighbourhood was their only hope. Youths who grew up in the 1990s have an especial corner for games like Mustapha, Mortal Combat, Road Rush, House of the Dead et cetera. Students would save their pocket money to go rounds in these gaming arcades.
Competitive gaming started in 2008 in Bangladesh. During this time, different universities started organising gaming programmes and later a number of cafes come up to join the team. With the ongoing demand, this trend started full swing during 2010.
In recent times, online multiplayer gaming has gained the focus among youths. In online multiplayer games, players take this sensation to another level. People from every corner of the world sit together in one hub and then compete with each other online.
One important thing about competitive gaming is the demand of certain games. Not every game is wanted or demanded in here like the west. But there are games which remain most popular in competitive gaming such as Counter Strike, DOTA 2 and Rainbow Six Siege are the names of games that are played by professional gamers regularly.
While talking to pro gamers, Reyan Tariq, whose gaming name is The Finisher, shares his experience in competitive gaming scene, ‘I started playing games competitively when I was 15. Within weeks I got so obsessed. I could not stop. It is a whole new world in it here. After winning so many local gaming competitions, now I think it’s time to think even bigger by stepping in to International events.’
So we have come this far from gaming as hobby to professional gaming on international level.
There were few small tournaments like World Cyber Games and small local cafes hold small event with limited played and prize pool. The gaming scene in Bangladesh evolved tremendously over the last decade. From small tournaments with few thousand-taka prize to millions of taka are hosted every month.
Different private universities are hosting gaming events every year. North South University hosts Cybernauts every year, Gamescon, Gamefest and also Youthzest are some of the well-known events.
North South University hosts one the biggest gaming events every year and the event is called ‘NSU ACM Gaming Contest’. Their agenda is to inspire the gaming community in Bangladesh.
Shafayet Bin Shams, a student at the American International University-Bangladesh, is a passionate gamer and has a strong standpoint for gaming, ‘Gaming is a great mode for recreation. It is more than just passive consumption of content in a format someone else hand cut for you. Gaming is about the experience at your own pace. Gaming is about discovering new worlds with new friends or old acquaintances. Gaming is about staying curious and about challenging your ability to adapt.’
While discussing about the gradual development of gaming scenario in Bangladesh, Ashfak Joy, an avid gamer and enthusiast tells New Age Youth that number of gaming zones should be increased in different locations of Dhaka city. He also mentions the advancement of online gaming as a great marker in the development of this industry in Bangladesh.
Ajmaeen Awsaf is a regular face in Bangladesh gaming community who has been gaming for over a decade now. He has seen the transformation of the industry and how the popularity of games has changed over the years. ‘In the early 2000s, Virtual Cop and DX Ball were popular. From 2010, the competitive scene was carried by games like Call of Duty, Counter Strike, FIFA and World of War Craft.’
‘Currently the biggest player bases are in Rainbow 6 Siege, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Defence of the Ancient 2, League of Legends and FIFA in the competitive scene. Games such as Assassins Creed, Dark Souls, The Witcher, Devil May Cry, The Elder Scrolls et cetera are really popular as offline games. Popular online games like PUBG, Overwatch, Paladins, Fornite are played but do not have a huge player base,’ he asses the current popularity.
Jisan Haider is a young game developer working for Dreamerz Lab Ltd, who during a conversation with New Age Youth reveals a two-fold problem for game developing industry of Bangladesh. ‘On the one hand, we do not have a lot of properly trained talented game developers as a result the development labs are often left with difficulties during recruitment. On the other hand, there are no institutions to train young enthusiasts properly which is reflected on the poor number of gaming studios in existence here. Often time, genuinely talented developers shift abroad for better prospects and salary. Earning from this profession is however increasing gradually’.
Fahim Ahmad is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Orange Box Lab Ltd, a passionate gamer and developer. He thinks that game developers, designers, programmers and animators are not patronised by the society or the government.
‘The lack of training centres with proper facilities and elaborate syllabus are still dragging behind the Bangladeshi youth to get a piece of cake of the large gaming industry, which at this moment is a USD 139 billion worldwide.’
His experience discloses that most of the game developers of Bangladesh have acquired their skills through online tutorials.
While discussing about their works he says, ‘Our core business model is to develop games. We have released five games in the Google Play Store. Nine more are in the pipeline.’
Fahim later mentioned that during the starting of his game developing career back in 2017, most of the developers were dependent on self-learning as well as community learning. ‘We maintained a community and people would learn things by themselves online and then share that knowledge with the community which was a great way for new game developers like me to learn a lot from the experienced people’.
Considering the huge demand and prospects, game developing could be a fantastic opportunity for youths to take as career. However, proper facilities should be available for the youths to develop their skills in this sector.
Riasat Raihan is a member of the New Age Youth team.
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