IndiaTech writes to Ministry of Electronics and IT suggesting a ‘Code for Responsible Online Gaming’ framework

IndiaTech has written to the Ministry of Electronics and IT suggesting the framing of a ‘Code for Responsible Online Gaming’.

Previously, the industry body representing India’s consumer internet startups, unicorns, and investors wrote two letters to the ministry. It has been suggested that the code for online gaming should include policies that stipulate age or genre-based classifications, AI-based algorithms to monitor and curb potential addictions and cut-offs for money spends and wins.

Apart from that, they also suggested that the guidelines should include cultural sensitivities and a no bots policy, to be fair to players. The industry body recommended standards similar to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)—a self-regulatory body set up in 1994 that assigns age and content ratings to video games in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The online gaming sector has made rapid strides amid the pandemic. The online gaming market in India grew at a CAGR of 17.3%, from $543 Mn in 2016 to $1.027 Bn in 2020. India also moved to the top global spot in mobile game downloads in the first nine months of 2020 with 7.3 Bn downloads.

IndiaTech has always maintained that banning is not the solution. The industry body consistently argued that that it is important for the government and the industry to have meaningful dialogues along with noted experts from various fields like mental health and law. Instead of outright bans, according to IndiaTech, governments need to work towards developing a framework and ensure compliance to the Code For Responsible Online Gaming.

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Speaking to G2G.news, Rameesh Kailasam, president and CEO of IndiaTech said, “More importantly, it is critical for governments and regulators to equally be able to understand these nuances. This education process that we have initiated; state governments have been pretty receptive. They have come back and said we weren’t aware of some of these nuances. Some of them have actually come back and said that we are ready to look into these rules to define some of them out. They have asked us if we can you give them more literature on it so we have been supplementing literature to various state governments.

IndiaTech has also submitted recommendations to the government that the code should involve the creation of a safe user environment that abides by privacy norms, protects against cyberbullying, online predators, malware, and provides protection from cyber frauds. The code must provide protection to vulnerable players who may seem to demonstrate a tendency to be addicted to such games through AI-based interventions, IndiaTech suggested.

They recommended that online skill-based casual games and sports formats should be recognized as a category that is predominantly skill-based and is non-addictive. Speaking to G2G news, Kailasam had explained why he names that category as OSCGS. He shares, “I realised that there are multiple games which are there which are played right from a Ludo to a Fruit Ninja. They actually needed a name so I had coined the name and had released it and I wrote to the government of India and also different state governments saying maybe we call them online skill-based casual games and sports.” IndiaTech suggested that the mere involvement of money does not make any game into an addictive or gambling genre and hence shouldn’t be viewed from a banning perspective.