Changing Times and Changing Laws
The world spins and unknowingly we spin around with it. With each such spin the globe takes, come eras, possibilities and change acting as the intermediary between the two. In the buzzling 21st century life where the world relies more on the mental and innovative aspects of human thinking, where innovation has become a household chore, where innovation and creativity have become accessible to all the classes of society. In my opinion change has never ever been so chaotic yet at the same time so blissful. When we look at the tail end of the 20th century and move across to the new beginnings of the 21st century, we can analyse and come to a conclusion that human life has never before been so stationery and luxurious. Today, a large section of the society is living the life of a Russian Count or duke in their own way, life has never been so easy and luxurious. This sudden life of luxury that these people have been forced onto, has created an artistic form of game and relaxation for the modern human. This era saw the birth of the modern human’s pastime, online games.
History of Online Gaming in India
Games started off with arcade games, they did not hold much significance in the lives of the people but through advancement in gaming technology, with the invention of the personal computer in the 1980's and with the creation of DONKEY by Bill gates, everything changed for the gaming market. Soon with the invention of IP multi task, people were able to play a game on the internet sitting at two different parts of the world. This set the first brick for the foundation of online gaming and the gaming Industry on the whole.
Even though large scale progress was being made in terms of computers and games it was not that easily accessible to the common public. A personal computer cost a fortune and was more of a luxury or status symbol, gaming too was a status symbol in countries like great Britain and America where only the rich could afford it, however companies like Dell, Apple and Microsoft worked diligently to bring about a computer revolution which completely changed the way the world looked at the computer and the games that were associated with it.
The Gaming Predecessors of The Past
The true era of online computer games began in the late 1990's and early 2000's where computer prices dropped drastically to such a point that a computer was more affordable than a fridge or television. This allowed the gaming industry to boom and saw the birth of a new generation of computer games that were completely different from the console based games that belonged to the 80's and 90's. This period also saw the birth of a new generation of kids who were exposed to these games and we can arguably say that the first legitimate generation of online gamers were born. The gamers we see today are the successors. It's really painful that even though there were many Indians who participated in this revolutionary change in the gaming world, India remains a country with no single law or judicial judgement that safe guards the rights of this newly emerged industry and its torch bearers.
The Difference between a Game and a Gamble
India’s online gaming industry has been growing at a very speedy pace and the market has bloated and blossomed in such a way that the industry now demands its own laws to govern it.
The gaming industry will soon reach its complete maturity in a few years and the country would be in great trouble if there were no laws to look after such a complex and diverse stream. Online games are the pass time of the youth of India and more number of people belonging to the young emerging working population of the nation are into it. Hence it is the country's duty to bring about a solution in India's ever growing gaming sector. In India games are attributed to the games that are listed in the PUBLIC GAMBLING ACT 1862 which is an act that dates back to the Victorian era. It is old fashioned and needs modern amendments to suit the laws of the modern era. Also the laws relating to gambling differ from each state and region. There is a very high level of division in laws pertaining to this sector and this division can be extremely harmful when taken into account of how much the gaming sector has grown.
No clear distinction between games, no sub-classes for identifying games, no proper understanding of the games begin played and no provision of an individual identity are the problems that India's gaming sector faces right at the moment. The gaming rules for maybe a FPS game may differ when compared to the rules of a normal puzzle game or it may differ from that of a fantasy game, a dating simulation game, open world game etc.
In the case of Chandresh Sankhla v. The State of Rajasthan and Ors., it has been debated over that every form of gambling is a game but ever game may not necessarily be a form of gambling. It was debated that fantasy sport games need considerable skill to master, need judgement and attention and hence are outside the scope of gambling which most probably depends on an individual’s luck. It is impossible to win an e-sport game through luck as various motor functions determine the winner and not the rolling of a dice.
The Scope of Gaming Laws Is Not Limited to Games but Gamers Too
Indian laws need to consider these criteria while formulating the laws for this sector. Now coming to the gamers, various social media platforms have helped in the personal growth of these gamers. The modern gamers who rule and preside over the gaming industry started off with social media as their backbone and medium to connect to an audience. In my opinion gaming law must also comprise a bit of entertainment laws as large numbers of people on YouTube watch these gamers, play various games. Also copyright laws must be introduced into gaming as Individual gamers have their own special way of presentation, their own slogans and hence these too must be protected. This will ensure that the same content or material or presentation techniques are not repeated by another gamer. This will ensure individuality and innovativeness: The process of making a law solely for the purpose of Gaming in the 21st century India is a lengthy process as gaming law may stretch to various other sections of law like intellectual property, corporate and even criminal law. The law will have to decide various things like:
What is a game and what is a gamble?
Who is a gamer and who is a gambler?
What are the common grounds between Gaming and gambling?
What are the rights pertaining to a person playing online games?
Can gaming be taken in as an educational qualification?
Creation an institution that promotes gaming or at least a regulatory body that works round the clock for the purpose of safeguarding games and gamers.
The Peculiarities of the Gaming Sector
The world is changing and change is what excites me the most as a person born into this diverse and complex generation. Governments around the world must decide and come to a conclusion regarding gaming and gamers. Games can be used in various formats, they can be used for healing mentally ill people for e.g. simulation can help in making a handicapped man feel like a normal human being also they can be helpful in understanding the needs of the modern generation their likes and dislikes, dangerous games like the blue whale challenge have to be controlled and eradicated as soon as possible as well as mental health concerning gamers. We find many people of the young generation who become a recluse and enter into a stage of depression and it is games that give them a form of relief. The term is called a hikikamori in Japan and the number of such people is increasing at a steady and fast pace. This is where some aspects of the Mental Health Care Act 2017 comes into the picture. Significant studies prove that people dwell into playing video games or online games to escape the real world and dive into a virtual world. The government must consider all these factors while making a law for Gaming.
As a youngster, it’s a cry of help that the online gaming industry is giving out and day by day the cry is growing louder and louder and it is the governments duty to reach out to this cry for help. When woman's rights, UCC and various other amendments can be discussed it is an urge that even this be discussed and a solution be brought forward by the government. It is still not late, the gaming industry can be saved from harmful complications like disorder or confusion disorganization with the help of a law. India must act fast and be the patron power leading the revolution in gaming laws.
Sonam Sanjay Pandey | FY B.com LLB, DY Patil Deemed to be University School of Law