Dr Souvik Mukherjee and Mr. Riko Banerjee had the wonderful opportunity to interview Mr. Rishi Alwani, a veteran gaming journalist who is currently an Editor at IGN India. The interview was a part of a series of podcasts, named First Person Encounters, hosted by Game Studies India, where we talk with veterans of the gaming industry about their first encounters with videogames.
We started the interview by asking Mr. Alwani about his first experience with video games. He stated that the first game he ever played was Super Mario Bros. on a NES when he was around the age of 6. His PC gaming experience began in the early 2000s when he played Dues Ex, a game that greatly enhanced his interest in gaming. The next question we asked was the reason why gaming journalism in India is not at par with international gaming websites. Mr. Alwani replied that it is “a function of market demands” and that the primary reason why gaming journalism exists in India is because it is trending. He further said that in order to run a site which is at par with prominent sites like Kotaku, we need experts from various fields such as production, business, and of course people with deep and wide knowledge of gaming. He explained that while some countries regard gaming as a part of culture and art, in India, we mostly subcategorize gaming under the field of technology and gadgets.
We asked Mr. Alwani about the changes in gaming culture and its acceptance over the years and what we can expect further down the road. He said that while gaming has come a very long way in India, we are still at a point where independent developers and gaming websites face situations like closures due to non-sustainability in terms of finance. He stated that for now, the pinnacle in the Indian gaming industry would be the point when people in the industry would no longer have to worry about their next paycheck and businesses in gaming can bloom financially without facing closures. We further asked him about how the fake news spread by the Indian media surrounding gaming, and game bans in the country affects the industry and what consequences it can have on the industry’s future. He stated that as far as portrayal of news is concerned, the only way that can be improved is by making sure that there are fact-checking procedures surrounding any particular news, before it is published. As for game bans, he cited the example of PUBGM and mentioned both government as well as the game publishers need to improve their policies regarding game ban laws and monetization techniques respectively.
Lastly, we asked him what advice he would give to new and upcoming gaming journalists in India. He said the firstly, a journalist must always verify their news and fact-check everything. And secondly, instead of basing their content the number of views, they should focus on quality instead, since the former might eventually lead to clickbait articles.