Saturday, August 30, 2014

Candy Crushing It In AnyVillage, India

Over Raksha Bhandan holiday I visited Bithli, Masi's gaam. Since Bhoti got married, Masi and Masa have mostly shifted base from Baroda to Bithli. Masa manages the farming operation and Masi entertains an endless stream (though slightly less bandwidth than Aalap) of guests.

While I was there, one thing totally captivated my attention, beside the huge 15x10 foot wall length portraits of Keya and Sujit on the second floor of Masi's house. As far as I could tell, Candy Crush had swept up the entire male population of the village. Everywhere I went, men were playing. Every house had the same scene: all males head down, sometimes sitting in corners out of semi-shame, working their thumbs nimbly over their sleek touch screens.

Masa told me he himself plays five hours a day. Five hours a day! Candy Crush when you wake up in the morning. Candy Crush while waiting for lunch. Candy Crush while relaxing after lunch on the porch. When your wife yells at you to get off of the phone, pull out your tab and Candy Crush on there. That's really crushing it. Masa has become an expert player. Conversations in all male huddles, which tend to form throughout the day in gaam life, never concluded without chit-chat about what level someone reached or what quest was completed or little quirks and ways to cheat the game. Dhruv taught me a bit and I found the game interesting and pretty challenging. But nothing I would play for hours every day.

I thrilled at how this game had penetrated this random Indian village and taken it by storm, so far away by distances of space time and context from where it originated. What would happen if the Candy Crush Braintrust, what I imagine as a cadre of 20-something hipster-types in a posh industrial area in SF plotting the next move for their game to conquer the world, visited Bithli?

1 comment:

  1. Great story! But I would extend your final question: What would happen if the Candy Crush Braintrust, what I imagine as a cadre of 20-something hipster-types in a posh industrial area in SF plotting the next move for their game to conquer the world, visited Bithli... and actually built something useful with their skills? If gamification can enthrall random villages, perhaps they're on to something about human behavior that can translate into productive or meaningful activity.

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