Gaming as a tool of social change, engagement


Gaming as a tool of social change, engagement

They all are in their mid-twenties, and recently gathered from across the country to empower and explore the idea of gaming through the spectrum of contemporary art practice.

Mohini Dutta, Shradha Jain, Zuleikha Chaudhary, Krishnarjun Bhattacharya and Vinit Nikumbh, as part of the gaming residency programme by Khoj International Artists’ Association, presented their different perspectives on making games a tool of social engagement and change.

Hailing from a background of film and video communication, Shradha Jain’s interest lies in board games. She has worked on a public installation of traditional board games. “My primary interest lies in studying and reviving the rich cultural heritage of traditional board games and play culture. I am committed to documenting and representing various forms of games that form a seamless cultural tradition, overcoming geographical boundaries,” says Jain.

On the other hand, Mohini Dutta is a game developer working in the US. She has been working on a game that bases itself within the issues of tribal displacement in the Mahan forests. Her influences are jungle sounds, tribal aesthetics and the current political situation in Mahan. Her work explores games through the lens of cultural immersion, education, and disruptive spectacle.

“I am interested in the universality of games to access the troublesome hierarchy between urban and rural value systems. The project aims to critique the urban technocrat's privilege as creator of public opinion that influences and impacts the existence of a group alien to itself. Using underrepresented narratives from the indigenous experience within a playful context, this project seeks to provide
a narrative framework for the isolated urban individual to navigate the isolated tribal experience,” she tells Metrolife.

Krishnarjun Bhattacharya comes with a deep interest in film, fantasy literature and game criticism. He recently published his dystopian fantasy novel, Tantrics of Old, in June 2014, and is a graduate of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, in Film and Video Communication, and has done his postgraduation from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, in Video Editing. For this residency, he worked on a psychological horror first-person exploratory game as he likes working with stories, legends, and myths. He's working towards a structure-less narrative that allows free flow and revolves around long lost tales and fascinating characters.

Meanwhile, Vinit Nikumbh is an architect who is working on an App that ‘gamifies’ urban planning.Zuleikha Chaudhary explores the ‘theatrical aspect within games and gaming through a dramatic exploration of a basketball’.

She says, “The Bhawal case was an extended Indian court case about a possible impostor who claimed to be the prince of Bhawal, who was presumed dead a decade earlier. My project layers this trial with an audition using the framework of a game to consider being you and being someone else and where telling the truth and faking dissolve into each other and become indistinguishable.”

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