Online gaming fervour at IIT Bombay knows no bounds

“Online gaming is like a religion in the institute, we spend all our savings in the name of gaming,” a member of the multiplayer gaming community at the Indian Institute of Bombay (IIT-B) expressed. On an average, these gamers spend about eight to nine hours of their night in front of a laptop, with headphones on their ears, hands on keyboard and mouse, and eyes staring fiercely at the screen.

A few popular games in the community include Counter Strike: Global Offensives (CSGO), Call of Duty, and FIFA, all multiplayer games. Gaurav Kumar, a third-year student at IIT-B, said, “Since there is no data restriction on the internal network, we can play for as long as we want.” Kumar continued, “We have informal competitions as well, where everybody contributes Rs 10 each, and the winning team takes the prize money.

They buy expensive headphones, to be able to hear footsteps while playing CSGO, cooling pads, fancy mouse pads; they do not just spend, they splurge money on accessories. They look for Alienware laptops, where the product range starts from Rs one lakh; they prefer NVIDIA graphic cards, which again are costly. They buy accessories like wired computer mice which are optimised for gaming that average around Rs 8,000, gaming keyboards – add another 5,000 here, and headphones – the expensive ones, costing about Rs 10,000. These players don’t mind spending on accessories, but they don’t purchase new games that have just made it to the market. When it comes to the games that appeal to these gamers, they have their preferences in place.  

While playing (for competitions), they make two teams of five people each. Kumar who goes by the name Xenark in the CSGO community at IIT-B, said, “We always restrict the number of players, otherwise it gets crowded. To spread the word about any competitions, the community has a closed fb group, or we inform the interested students in the dining hall.” He continued, “I also like science fiction role playing games; ‘Dishonored’ is my favourite. I play card games as well, they help in socialising, and are fun.”

There are over 500 to 600 students at IIT-B who love playing multiplayer games. Their usual play time starts after dinner, and goes on till early morning. The top gamers also practice reaction skills, reflex training, as it helps in improving their performance. Kumar added, “Some people play for time pass, some for entertainment, and some for brushing up their cognitive skills.” 

These students are willing to lose their sleep for gaming, but if the situation was to be compared with studies, then they would probable fall asleep in no time at all. They do cut short their gaming hours during semester exams. Kumar expressed, “When one steps in the online gaming world, they lose sleep, and move in to a world full of creativity and imagination.”