Inside the Game Studio: Ripul's Insights on India's Gaming Innovations and Regulation's
Gaming Eminence recently conducted an interview with Ripul Mantrao, who serves as the Co-Founder and Head of Game Design at Jumping Play Studio. In this engaging conversation, Ripul delves into the intriguing intersection of technology and creativity as they pertain to the world of gaming, with a particular focus on the Indian gaming landscape.
During the interview, Ripul sheds light on the intricate task of harmonizing the preferences of local gamers with global gaming trends. He articulates his approach of drawing inspiration from traditional games while wholeheartedly embracing innovation. Ripul also expounds on the vital role of data-driven insights in personalising gaming experiences, all the while underscoring the delicate balance that must be struck between data-driven decision-making and the free-flowing creativity that is at the heart of game design.
In addition to this, the discussion delves into the ever-evolving regulations surrounding online gambling in India. Ripul offers invaluable advice for professionals venturing into this dynamic market. He also highlights the complexity of state-level regulations within India and underscores the imperative need for legal consultation in navigating this intricate regulatory landscape.
GE) In your role at Jumping Play, you're leading the design of games in an era where technology is rapidly transforming player interactions. How do you see the fusion of your passion for technology and your creative inclination shaping the future of gaming experiences, especially considering the burgeoning mobile gaming trend in India and the rest of the world?
RM) My passion for technology and design was ignited during my school years when I was fond of drawing and painting. Prior to my current role, I spent a decade in the consumer durable industry, where I leveraged technology as an efficient tool in data analytics and operations management. However, this creative inclination and my passion for technology ultimately led me to my current position, where I blend my artistic flair with technology to craft engaging and visually captivating gaming experiences.
As technology continues to evolve, it opens up exciting opportunities for game design. My enthusiasm for technology constantly drives me to explore innovative ways to enhance player interactions. It's about creating games that not only entertain but also adapt to the player's preferences and behaviours.
The mobile gaming trend in India has ushered in millions of players into the gaming ecosystem. For us, this trend means designing games that are not only visually engaging but also optimised for various devices and playing dynamics.
At Jumping Play, our motto is to harness technology’s potential while staying true to our core principles of creativity and storytelling.
GE) India presents a unique landscape for online gambling, with a blend of traditional games and emerging technologies. As the Co-Founder and Head of Game Design at an India-based studio, how do you navigate the balance between catering to local preferences and incorporating cutting-edge global trends in your game design strategies?
RM) The Indian gaming genre is indeed unique, with a rich pool of local traditional games on one hand and a tech-savvy youth constantly seeking innovative solutions on the other. As a Co-founder and Head of game design, achieving the right equilibrium between these elements is both a challenge and a rewarding endeavour.
The diversity of traditional games in India has left an indelible mark on modern game design, drawing inspiration from our historical connection to gaming. Ancient Indian texts, including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, which date back thousands of years, allude to gambling and games of chance. However, these traditional gaming forms were primarily reserved for social and recreational activities.
Games like Teen Patti and Rummy have deep cultural roots, as they have been played by locals for generations. The successful fusion of these games with modern game mechanics and user experiences has been impressive. Players appreciate the familiarity of traditional card games but also crave new challenges to amplify the thrill of gameplay. Thus, introducing features such as leaderboards, tournaments, community engagement, and interactive chats has resonated well with our audience.
The challenge lies in adapting these games for online play. Ensuring fairness and preventing cheating represent new hurdles for these games. Moreover, maintaining a delicate balance between preserving tradition and embracing modernity requires finesse. However, once we accomplish this delicate feat, players get to relish their cultural heritage in contemporary settings. This journey opens up new horizons for game developers to explore and innovate.
The key to success is a profound understanding of and respect for our culture, which distinguishes our nation, while also embracing global trends that universally captivate players. Take, for instance, traditional games like Rummy or Teen Patti; when given a digital makeover, they are well-received in the global market. It's akin to celebrating our heritage while fostering innovation.
GE) Could you share your insights on how the gaming industry's increasing reliance on data-driven insights intersects with your creative process, particularly when designing games that involve real money transactions?
RM) Given that our core strength lies in designing and developing real-money games, such as casino/slot games and sports betting games, data plays a pivotal role in our decision-making process.
Data offers us profound insights into player behavior, preferences, and pain points. It aids us in identifying aspects of game features that are gaining popularity among players and empowers us to gradually enhance them.
Moreover, data empowers us to personalize gaming experiences for individual players. For example, understanding a player's betting patterns or preferred game genres enables us to recommend games they're likely to find enjoyable. This approach fosters a sense of belonging and anticipation.
While data informs our decisions, it's crucial to remember that creativity ensures each game remains unique and engaging. Therefore, it is imperative for us to strike a balance between these two elements.
Collecting and managing data, especially in the context of real-money games, presents its own set of challenges. If I may highlight a few:
Foremost among these challenges is data security and privacy. This necessitates robust security measures and compliance with data protection regulations to safeguard player data against breaches and misuse.
Another significant challenge pertains to the sheer volume of data generated by online gaming platforms, encompassing financial transactions, player profiles, gameplay data, and more. Extracting meaningful insights from this intricate data necessitates both robust and efficient data analytics tools, as well as skilled minds. Furthermore, we acknowledge that data accuracy is of paramount importance within our industry. Achieving this requires structured data validation and filtering processes to ensure the precision of our data. Incorrect or incomplete data can lead to misguided insights and decisions.
GE) In the context of India's evolving regulatory environment for online gambling, what advice would you offer to fellow professionals, both within and outside India, who share your enthusiasm for contributing to the growth and innovation of the gaming landscape?
RM) India's regulatory environment for online gambling is evolving.
The history of gaming laws in India has evolved over time, from traditional cultural practices to colonial-era regulations and modern-day legislative frameworks. Currently, the evolution of India’s regulatory environment for online gambling is involving a shift towards standardization.
It all started with The Public Gambling Act, 1867, which prohibited the operation of gaming houses and made gambling in public places illegal. However, this act was primarily focused on physical premises and did not account for online or virtual gaming, as the concept of online gaming did not exist at that time.
After India gained independence in 1947, the country adopted a constitution that granted individual states the authority to legislate on matters related to gambling and betting. As a result, the legal status of gaming in India varies from state to state, with some states allowing certain forms of gaming while others impose strict regulations or bans.
Today, there is a noticeable shift towards national-level uniformity in regulations. In recent years, with the rise of online gaming and the increasing popularity of e-sports, the Indian government introduced The Information Technology Rules, 2021. These rules aim to regulate online content, including gaming content, by requiring online platforms to adhere to specific guidelines and rules. This ensures that online gaming platforms do not host or promote content that is obscene, offensive, or harmful to the public interest.
This year, The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has introduced new regulations for online gaming in India. These regulations, effective since April 6, 2023, aim to govern the online gaming industry in India. A significant development is the inclusion of Online Gaming Intermediaries in the IT (Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Online gaming intermediaries, platforms that host or facilitate online gaming, are now obligated to comply with various obligations outlined in the Information Technology Rules, 2021, which were initially issued in February 2021 and later updated in April 2023.
With the right regulations in place, online gaming in India has the potential to become a booming industry, offering employment and entertainment to millions. The industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.3% from 2021 to 2026.
It's essential for professionals in the industry to navigate this landscape responsibly and ethically. My advice to fellow professionals, whether in India or elsewhere, is to prioritize compliance, player well-being, and innovation.
Stay informed about evolving regulations and ensure that your operations are fully compliant. This not only mitigates legal risks but also builds trust with players.
The legal landscape surrounding gaming in India is complex, with varying regulations across different states and ongoing debates about the classification of online gaming. As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, it is likely that the legal framework governing gaming in India will continue to evolve as well. The goal is to strike a balance between the need for regulation and the promotion of responsible and safe gaming practices.
There are different ways to stay updated on evolving regulations, such as seeking legal consultation, checking government websites, engaging with industry associations, networking with peers in the industry, and utilizing compliance tools.
Specific state laws and regulations apply depending on the type of gaming activity and the jurisdiction in which it is conducted. For instance, states like Goa, Sikkim, and Nagaland permit the regulation and licensing of online games of skill, such as poker and rummy, as well as games of chance and land-based casinos within the state. However, some states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka prohibit all forms of online gambling, including games of skill and games of chance. Their laws impose strict penalties on individuals and operators engaged in online gaming activities within the state.
Moreover, there are states that have not specifically addressed this sector, and the legal status of online gaming is currently under debate.
Therefore, it is advisable to seek legal advice and stay updated with the latest developments in gaming laws in India to ensure compliance with applicable regulations.
Responsible gaming practices are essential for both the industry and players. Implement measures such as self-exclusion options, spending limits, and age verification to protect players from harm.
Innovation should go hand-in-hand with responsibility. Embrace technologies to enable transparent transactions and fair gaming. Utilize data analytics not only for profit but also to identify and address potential issues related to addiction.
Our shared goal should be to contribute to the growth of the industry while ensuring it remains safe, enjoyable, and responsible for the gaming community.
About our contributor
Ripul Mantrao is the Co-Founder and Head of Game Design at Jumping Play Studio, a leading end-to-end service provider based in India providing design and development solutions for slot games, sports betting, real money games and mobile games. Prior to his current position, He has garnered extensive experience in data analytics and operations management within the consumer durables industry. He served as the Branch Service Head at Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co. Ltd., where he made significant contributions to the field. With a profound passion for merging creativity with cutting-edge technology, Ripul has been at the forefront of shaping gaming experiences in an era of rapid transformation. Leveraging over 13 years of industry expertise, he has successfully navigated the intricate balance between catering to local gaming preferences and incorporating global gaming trends. Ripul is dedicated to pioneering responsible and innovative gaming solutions that captivate and engage players around the world. Visit: http://www.jumpingplay.com/