Into the world of games

Vinit Nikumbh’s digital walking game ‘Khirkee 2027’ imagines a dystopian future of Khirkee, an urban village in south Delhi. The appearance of the neighbourhood has changed in the year 2027, but have the familiar issues of resource pinch, racism and urban squalor changed?

Then there is Akshay Raj Singh Rathore’s game, titled ‘The Encyclopedia of Minor Conflicts’ that traces the history of the character of Chutki from Satyajit Ray’s film Ashani Sanket, a young woman escaping rural Bengal in the wake of the disastrous Bengal Famine of 1943.

If Rathore has created a critical reading of the history of agriculture within the country through this instance of calamity and the figure of a female protagonist who is far more vulnerable in the face of famine, then Nikumbh’s has perceived the game through the lens of a girl, a migrant, and raised questions of identity, gender and racial politics.

These games are part of an exhibition of art games ‘Level 01’ at Khoj Studios and highlight pertinent issues of migration, racism, terrorism and other socio-political issues.

“The objective of the exhibition is to not only showcase the high quality of work in the field of art games happening within India, but also highlight the ways in which games are playing an important part in creating critical conversations on difficult socio-political topics in a light and playful manner,” says curator Promona Sengupta.

These experimental games are made by artists from diverse backgrounds - architecture, visual arts, literature, filmmaking and game development, and includes names like Krishnarjun
Bhattacharya, Mario D’Souza and Sanket Jadia, Studio Oleomingus and Thukral and Tagra.

The celebrated duo of Thukral and Tagra have taken tabletop games one notch higher with ‘Walk of Life’, a game board working on the principles of good and bad karma, traversing the ten avatars of Vishnu. Through the gameplay, players collectively trade in and protect the currency of the game – a tumbler of water – effectively communicating to audiences the gravity of water scarcity and the importance of collective responsibility of natural resources.
The show is on at Khoj Studios till February 20.

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