Antariksha Sanchar. Serious Games
Not all digital games offer an escape from reality into another world. In some games, what the players experience helps to improve their understanding of the world they live in – be it other countries, cultures and people, or conflicts and history.
Whether it is a flight simulator for trainee pilots or maths puzzles for primary school pupils, serious games have always tried to inform and educate. Today, a new generation of games is emerging that could be described as an ingenious blend of learning and entertaining. The most important characteristic of these new games is that they establish a connection between the real and the fictional world. Ideally, the player should not realise that knowledge is being conveyed: the learning effect goes unnoticed, taking place via direct action, and the knowledge and experience gained can be applied directly to life in the real world.
In form 262, we present two examples of serious games, and you will find two more here, in form Dossiers.
In India, a team of games developers and designers is currently launching a project that is to pass on their own traditions and history as independently as possible from Western influences. “Antariksha Sanchar”, that just is being created from a collaboration between Quicksand Studios (see form 261, Research) and the B.L.O.T. collective, is not only a digital game but much more of a transmedia, speculative science fiction story, based on the adventures of a certain Ramanujan (inspired by the Indian mathematician). This story is told using a video game, a graphic novel, an audiovisual performance as well as toys and art works. Ramanujan possesses an audio-visual gift that allows him to explore the unity between nature, art, science, and culture in a surreal journey. The point-and-click adventure is made up of several episodes with lots of conversations between the characters.
An essential part of the game’s design is the Bharatanatyam performance of the dancer Jayalakshmi Eshwar. Bharatanatyam is a classic Indian dance through which the stories from mythology and literature are told. After the significance of the dance was lost for the temple culture of Southern India, a stage dance that itself can be traced back approximately 200 years, developed from this 2000-plus year-old tradition. Eshwar has adapted the traditional Indian dance, allows new ideas to merge into it and uses digital media to develop her performances.
The Quicksand Studio’s Games Lab’s aim is to research the interactive cultural education in India within the context of old and new cultural trends. Antariksha Sanchar is the first attempt to restructure global mainstream trends, establish their own content and develop a commercial Indian game. To achieve this, the team is resorting to its mutual network of friends who are designers and artists and which includes the organisers of the Unbox Festival.