back to article Forget Fortnite and FIFA: India wants to develop games based on local legends

India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has urged the nation's software industry to make games based on local myths and legends. As part of India's self-sufficiency drive, an effort that aims to make more goods at home and by doing so scale industries to a size at which they become viable exporters, Modi yesterday called for …

  1. Chris G Silver badge


    There are loads stories of the battles between the hindu gods on the sides of darkness or light, lots of wierd weapons and stories that would probably translate well, and that is only one of over 400 religions.

    There are also a shed load of martial arts like Kilaripyatu ((possibly the mother of kung fu snd other oriental martial arts.

    The Sikh Gatka is another martial art full of interesting weapons.

    I suspect the carvings and statuary from Varanasi might provide the basis for somewhat more adult games that could have broad appeal.

    1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

      Re: Sindu

      Further, recent books either as direct retelling or a retelling in a slightly cloaked form have been selling well with good reviews, not that I go by reviews. It's a no brainer for Bollywood to do these as films and tie a video game to to the film. Although I do hope they avoid the Lucasfilm and Spielberg curses when it comes to the games.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Sindu

        Bollywood video games would be great!

  2. revenant


    ... it’s hard to imagine Mortal Kombat being topped by The Mahabharata and its hero Arjuna’s meditations on the existence of a single deity and the unity of all things.

    The Mahabharata has everything - Sex, Violence, Honour/Dishonour, Heroes/Villains, Gods, Monsters, shit-hot Celestial Weaponry, Battles, Individual Combat....

    Arjuna's meditations are really just a small part of what that world has to offer Indian game developers.

    1. John Jennings Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      Have to agree there. I dont know much about the Mahabharata, but there are some epic fights and story lines in it. More diverse, in many ways, than the Greek myths. Bits would transfer well into big battle games like 'total war' and could be great.

      The kingdoms in ancient India also would be a rich source of intrigue and missions for strategy type games which could work across the world (imagine the time of Alexander in the Punjab, and the Persian Satraps.)

      Nevermind fantasy based upon the myths and legends...

  3. Dapprman

    Surprised it took so long

    Considering how well RPG and sim games based on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tales and legends sell I'm surprised it took this long and I'd be interested to see what they produce.

  4. Ashto5

    Sounds Great

    And it will help people to learn the languages

    India IS the next rising empire more than China, which is why I believe that China is working for a more military stance

    India vs China death match

    USA vs USSR is old hat now

  5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    So in other words

    Modi thinks he doesn't have enough pro-hindu propaganfa outlets. This is no different than Jerry Falwell Jr. complaining that these are not enough Bible based computer games.

    1. pradeepvasudev

      Re: So in other words

      Now, what is so bad about Jerry Falwell's comments? There probably exists a large unaddressed market for Bible-based video games but conversations around that have been zero. If he points that out, and some entrepreneurs do chance it, what exactly is wrong with that? Either the market exists and they make money, or it does not, and they lose some - I am not really sure I understand.

      Let's see about pro-hindu too. What is so wrong about being pro-Hindu? Does it automatically become anti-Muslim/Xtian/Jew or something? That's pretty exclusivist thinking, isn't it? Here is an interesting insight - Gandhi was pro-Hindu, would pray publicly to Lord Ram every day, and it still did not make him anti-whatever. Bloody hell - it did not even make him anti-British - lord knows he had plenty of reason to.

  6. deadlockvictim Silver badge


    Maybe I'm being cynical, but two thoughts come to mind:

    1. In the same way that MAGA translates as 'Make America White Again', my guess is that Modi's comment means, 'Make India Hindi Again'.

    2. On that first point, there are many, many traditions & cultures on the Indian subcontinent. I wonder if Mr. Modi would be happy with an epic game that celebrates one of the non-Hindi cultures. The Tamils must surely have a rich mythology. They do have a lot of good programmers and an entrepreneurial culture. So, Tamil Nadu, take Mr. Modi's words seriously and pronounce for us a killer game rich in Tamil culture.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Modi

      I agree, what has been stopping them anyhow, or what's stopping elsewhere to turn eyes to video games for $$?

      This seems very MAGA/political like, but the problem here is that they seem to be omitting the reasons they have not been participating already. If it hasn't been financial motivation to NOT participate, then it must be something like video games are too "English" or "Western" for their culture. Think about it, excluding porn, which digital market is more open than video games for 1.3 billion people to ignore, for 40 years? There has to be reasons.

      "Computer games are a new trend, liked by children and adults," <--- new you say?

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Modi

        There has to be reasons.

        Given that as recently as the year 2000 half a billion people in India didn't have electricity in their homes (every village now has electricity since 2018) and even today around 12% still don't have access to a basic water supply I don't think video games are particularly high up on most people's list of concerns.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Modi

          The funding for good plumbing and sanitary arrangements in the villages can only come from more taxes from more economic activity. Not to mention remittances from dutiful sons and daughters in the tech sectors.

          I know someone, a professor emeritus no less, who was born in a Scottish black house in Fife in the middle of the century not long before Ted Heath’s white hot fires of technology speech. I remember the celebrations of electricity supply to the whole of the Highlands & Islands. Broadband is still a dream in some areas.

          So we really have nothing much to criticise the Indians for. They are making progress after we spent a couple of centuries milking the country dry & inhibiting local industry. We may have built some civic buildings and improved the plumbing & sanitation but we did by extracting wealth from the Empire then selling manufactured goods back to them. All those locomotives & steamships for eg.

          So you might think those parts outside the Home Counties might have been developed rather better.

          1. Jan 0 Silver badge

            Re: white hot fires of technology speech

            s/Ted Heath/Harold Wilson/


          2. Def Silver badge

            Re: Modi

            I wasn't criticising anyone. I was merely pointing out that while the games industry has been going strong in other countries for over 40 years, in some countries people have had (and in other countries still do have) more basic and pressing needs to worry about.

            1. pradeepvasudev

              Re: Modi

              Lets see: I have a 300 mbps Fiber Optic line to my home, I have a 4K TV, and I am typing this on a MacBook. India has a population of 1.3 billion; 600 million belong to the middle class, 500 million plus have smartphones (compare with 55 million in the UK). In short, many of we'd like to have our own games, reflecting our own ethos, thank you very much.

              The challenge with fixing our basic needs (like toilets and running water) was not that we had no capability to do it, it was that the political will to do so was missing. Modi may get many things wrong, but he talks of simple everyday realities: cooking gas for the poor, sanitary napkins for women, toilets for everyone, running water and electricity in each home - and he works hard of delivering them; he is willing to pay for this - that is commitment and that is what everyone admires about him. Screw the intellectuals who state that he said 100% access to toilets when only 95% have access - its still a huge leap from the 30% when he took over - that is what people see. So yes, we are fixing our basic and pressing needs, but at the same time, we'd like to enjoy our culture more and in more avenues than just books and TV, if thats all right with you.

      2. pradeepvasudev

        Re: Modi

        I am going to chalk this up to lack of understanding and will spend a moment explaining it.

        When India got mobile telephony, it was very difficult for local language speakers to get access to local language agents - the IVRs were always pure English. When Internet plane and train booking became available, there were always available in English only. Even as recently as a year ago, Amazon and Flipkart were in English only. This is because the top 10% of the country, which dominates industry and media, uses English for all business. The other 90% can go fuck themselves, until they assert themselves by pushing the local leaders to take a stand. For example, Vodafone and Airtel refused to have Marathi as the IVR and messaging option in Mumbai, holding off until they were given an ultimatum by the local leaders, who also took the additional step of throwing black paint on their stores and even at their corporate offices. Now, 60% of the agents serve in the local language - because that is what the local people wanted.

        You may not like it - but language and cultural imperialism continue in the form of unrecognised privilege exercised by the Western-educated, English-speaking elite, who have usually looked down on the 'vernaculars'. They also find it a problem to serve that market - why bother when its easier to talk to the global, english speaking elite instead.

        My advice: next time you want to have a opinion about a nation of a billion people far far away, don't.

        1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

          Re: Modi

          British cultural imperialism was real - and sad vestiges remain. However, is the caste system a result of British rule? Is Modi's growing Hindu supremacy a result of British rule? Not long ago Modi came to the US and held a big BJP/Trump rally with Trump. Your telling people they shouldn't have opinions about Modi is hypocritical and shallow.

    2. pradeepvasudev

      Re: Modi

      As it turns out, all of India and especially the Hindus really do enjoy Tamil culture - from the food to the movies. After all Bahubali is a South Indian movie that was dubbed in Hindi and it still made it as one of the biggest hits of last year. Kindly go back to beating up Modi on the Islamophobe front - leave the Tamils alone.

      As for Hindi, Modi may speak Hindi very well indeed, but his mother tongue is Gujarati, so again, while he may want a common India-born language (like Hindi) across the country, he is well aware of the importance of regional languages. Again, kindly go back to beating him up on the fascism front - leave the regional languages discussion alone.

      My suggestion: if you do wish to have an opinion about something as complex as the nature of secularism in India or the debate of the 3 language education policy, please read all sides of the debate from the local media, rather than form your impressions from Western mouthpieces like the Beeb, Guardian, and CNN.

  7. LDS Silver badge

    How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

    Well, the same will happen to Hindu games. They will be a local production only.

    But they will suit Modi's 'Hindu first' politics anyway, and brainwashing children has always been among dictator's main aims.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

      What's wrong with them being local productions only? That's a pretty big market to be "limited" to, and can be successful as Bollywood demonstrates.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

      Here you go:

      Wiki: List of highest-grossing Indian films in overseas markets

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

        Yes, you see the revenues? Indian expat spectators... and some people having fun.

        1. pradeepvasudev

          Re: How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

          so? whats your point? that its not a global market? who cares as long as its a solid one.

    3. Sigmund Fraud

      Re: How much are Bollywood movies successful outside India?

      It will be lucrative even if it is only a local production. It is a huge market. Also i dont understand this. If other religions follow islam first politics, What is the problem in doing Hindu first politics?

      A hindu nation is always better than an islamic nation, since in an islamic nation no one else can survive.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "What is the problem in doing Hindu first politics?"

        That it is bad as any other "xxxx first" politics. Modi politics is identical to any other religious-based authoritarian politics - there is no space for anybody else.

        1. pradeepvasudev

          Re: "What is the problem in doing Hindu first politics?"

          The reason why Indians voted for Modi again and again (full disclosure: I did not), is because they believed, justifiably IMO, that certain groups were being privileged and he promised that such would not be the case any more. The groups, contrary to popular belief, were not all Muslims, even the most rabid Hindu knows that Muslims were treated like a 'vote-bank' and fared worse in real terms than many other communities. The privileged groups were:

          - the 'intelligensia' - the elite, western focused, english educated, secular*, movers and fixers who dictated the conversation and referred to the 'idea of India' without ever pulling into the conversation the average Indian. (Secular in the western sense. In India, a land where belief in divinity is woven into the very fabric of the civilisation, secular meant respect for belief in the divinity of the universe around us.) When these folks decided to disempower the Indians by shutting them up, redefining secular in Western terms and then decided to talk down to the average Hindu for their beliefs, the result was pushback.

          - the conservative Muslims- who thought it was OK to push for ideas like Sharia law, Islamic banking, uncontrolled use of loudspeakers and public spaces for prayers, single sitting divorce without assistance to the woman and whose leaders (priests) were allowed entry into the political space as influencers while Hindu religious leaders were frowned upon.

          This is why, for example, many Hindus who vote BJP are comfortable with Azim Premji in business, Zaheer Khan in cricket, and AR Rehman in music - it is not Islam they have a problem with, it is the idea of an unfair matchup - Muslims encouraged to stick to their most conservative beliefs (and rewarded for doing so), while Hindus being told to suck it up.

          In 2013, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh literally said in public that minorities have the first right to India's resources - notice that he did not say everyone has equal right, or the underprivileged have first right - it was the minorities who have that right, according to him. Is it a surprise then, that the majority voted against his party?

  8. MOH

    "But then again, twenty years ago it was hard to imagine an Italian plumber with Japanese cartoon sensibilities as capable of inspiring endless hours of entertainment."

    I know it makes us all feel old, but you might want to revisit the "twenty years" figure. Possibly by a factor of two.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      You mean the racist cliché of an Italian plumber?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Explain me, why Apu in the Simpson is a racist character and Mario and Luigi are not? Or the Italian cook in the Simpson as well? And so on...

        If country cliché are racists, then all of them are racists, you can't select which one are and which one are not.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    “Can we make games based on them?”

    Please do.

    I welcome new insights into the gaming culture. I'm sure that the addition of Indian culture will bring a lot of diversity to the game pool. Go for it.

  10. lglethal Silver badge

    “Computer games are a new trend...

    Really? Funny. Who would have guessed I've been a trendsetter for the last 30 years?

    It really says a lot about the BJP mindset when an at least 30 year old hobby is a "new" trend...

    Those damn upstart muslims, and their newfangled religion! I mean its only 1300 years old. Bah!

    1. pradeepvasudev

      Consider that for most Indians, their mobile is their first computer, and suddenly the penny drops, innit? Usually a good idea to consider cultural, economic, and other such differences between peoples before dropping random comments, methinks.

  11. TeeCee Gold badge


    ...that he's making such a song and dance over it.

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