Friday, May 14, 2010

Gaming in a Developing Country

After a fairly long break, its time to really get down to write about the things i mentioned in my first post. 
As I mentioned in my first post, I would be sharing my experiences and thoughts that I think sheds some light on the experience of gamers in developing nation. The main reason why I selected a theme like this for my article is that, many people either do not care or do not know about the difference the gamers in developing countries experience compared to other developed nations.

Before I write any further, I should stress what I mean by developing and developed countries in the context of this article. Developing countries are countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and to some extent India and any other nation where the IT infrastructure, data link capacities (bandwidth) and hardware availability are quite low. Also more importantly the financial strength of the people who want to game. When your income is low, you cannot afford to spend on non essential "luxuries" such as gaming. What I mean by developed countries are countries where the IT infrastructure is more high tech with better data links and better availability of hardware. Unlike in the case of developing nations, the financial strength of individuals is much more better in these countries allowing people to spend money on gaming as a hobby, entertainment medium or as a passion. For example US, UK, Australia, and almost all of European countries fall under this developed nations category. However some Asian countries which are not considered as developed countries in a political context can be viewed as developed countries in my opinion for the context of this article. Some of these countries are Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia and China. Although a considerable portion of the population  in these countries live under the poverty line to categorize these countries as developed nations, these countries have yet another considerable portion of the population with access to good IT infrastructure with money to spent on gaming.

As you read what I have just written above, it would be obvious that in a developing country, only a small portion of the population would have access to computers. Only a minute percentage of who have access would take the liberty to game. Although the situation is mostly improving in Asia, still there's a long way to go before the standards can be raised close developed nations. The main problem I see as a gamer in a developing country is the financial strength of individuals. People do not have enough money to spend on hobbies, past times or what ever their passion may be. Most people have other basic needs to worried about.

If you consider the middle income families, which is a far less percentage compared to developed nations, most do not bother to spend on entertainment media such as games. There are many reasons to as why people do not like to game or spend money on gaming even if they could. Most Asian families still adheres to deep rooted traditional values which creates a mind set more resistant to change. Especially technology related changes and this is more severe when it comes to technology related entertainment. Most parents consider gaming not only as a hindrance against studies, but as an addiction similar to drugs. Also there is the plethora of usual gaming critic points such as promotion of violence and foul language. This is somewhat more relevant in some developing nations where there are no regulatory bodies to make sure minor's do not get access to mature content. The main reason for this is the piracy which is prevalent in this part of the world. However i will not touch on piracy on this article because that issue warrants a separate article.

In a background like this, a passionate gamer finds it difficult to cling on to gaming because he/she would be facing a lot of challenges. First off, a gamer would have to buy a computer or a console to play on, which is quite expensive for most teenagers or youths. Only a lucky few could afford them at an early age by their own. They would have to get the monetary support from their parents to get the necessary hardware. So comes the first problems he/she faces. If they somehow get the hardware running, they would somehow get the gaming software for an affordable price which are almost all the time pirated. Since most people either do not have access to internet or do not have access to legitimate copies, a considerable portion is cut off from the gaming community. They simply play the single player modes. Some play the multiplayer games on cracked servers and socialize with gamers from around the world. But this is a very low percenatage. Then comes the issue of internet infrastructure. Although i do not have a fare knowledge about the internet rates and service quality in other countries, i can tell you experiences about the situation here in Sri Lanka. Broadband internet is expensive for most people. The affordable packages for most house holds are the 512k and 1M connections which are pretty primitive compared to developed nations.Also due to routing issues most players experience high pings to servers even in East Asia sometimes. Unless you are really passionate these frustrating experiences might keep a casual gamer away from multiplayer gaming. Only Multiplayer servers i have seen available here in SL are games like COD4 and CS. These servers are also fairly new, but lags most of the time. Also the lack of gamers in the community results in the players who play become isolated and find it hard to take part in tournaments or other major events. Its difficult to play with people in another geographical area if your connection is not up to standards and you end up frustrated in the end.

The situation is of course improving in most developing countries, but still there are lot of issues and difficulties gamers face in this part of the world.It would be quite sometimes before the standards would improve, until then gamers in developing world would have to endure certain things that most gamers would take for granted.

I think this gives an idea about a lot of things happening in this part of the world, but there might be more things to add and discuss regarding things. They would be disagreements with what i have written. Its time to hear your thoughts on this.

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