Pop culture, virtually

Pop culture, virtually

October 15, 2015

Sumedha Bhattacharjee begins and ends her day playing Candy Crush. She is so infatuated with the game that she even gifted her sister a Candy Crush Cake on her birthday that had her own score, 167, written in icing. The third year medical student of KPC Medical College doesn’t stop at that. She says that she is equally hooked on to Subway Surfers.

“It never gets boring,” says Sumedha who also loves to play Tap the Frog, Dumb Ways To Die and, not to forget, Angry Birds. The 21-year-old owns almost every piece of Angry Bird merchandise starting from slippers and T-shirts to pillows, slippers and phone covers.

Candy Crush birthday cake (says.com)

Let us take a look at why these virtual games have taken the population by storm. Let us consider a game like Angry Birds. It poses neither an age nor a language barrier. It is relatively stress-free and does not need intensive mental application. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection – which needless to say includes almost all urban youth – can freely access and exercise indulgence in the pastime.

When it comes to Darius Raihan Rub, a school student of La Martiniere for Boys, things are no different. He is constantly on the lookout for new interesting games which he downloads as soon as he comes across them on Google Play store. Since he is in class 12, he usually unwinds by taking breaks from his heavy study schedule to play virtual games. Darius says it makes his mind feel refreshed so that he can resume studying more efficiently. He is highly engrossed with Lane Splitter, Minion Rush, Ninja Chicken and Hill Climbing Racing.

Youngsters playing games on their phones, be it on the move or at home, is a common sight these days. How to reach the next level is all they think of. Their eyes and fingers seem to move in complete coordination with their mind.

Angry Birds (fonearena.com)

Consider being on a metro ride home. It barely takes one a few seconds to whip out his or her smartphone and start playing a game. Earlier one would read a book or listen to music or simply do nothing. Now, online games have become extremely user-friendly. One merely looks at a high-resolution screen and controls the game by actions as elementary as swiping a finger or tilting the device. This takes significantly less effort when compared with reading a book which involves having to focus on print, flipping pages and balancing it on your lap.

Sourjya Mukerji claims to be a Candy Crush addict. He can’t wait to come home from college and get back to his game so that he can break the scoring record and boast about it to his friends. Games such as Candy Crush, Farm Heroes Saga and Subway Surfers have networking features where you can play against your friends and beat their scores. That’s when the level of enjoyment and competition hits a new level altogether for Sourjya, a second-year student at Heritage Institute of Technology. The 19-year-old is also a Minion lover. Starting from notebooks, laptop covers and phone covers to T-shirts, he has Minions everywhere.

Minion lounge bed (aliexpress.com)

Being a cheap, accessible and convenient form of leisure and entertainment, the popularity of its content has skyrocketed. The fans have developed a need to endorse their favourite characters and scenarios from their virtual worlds. Hence real tangible versions of these characters have gained popularity and are in high demand.

There aren’t too many people who have not come across Angry Bird slippers, Candy Crush cakes, Minion phone covers or other merchandise featuring a range of content from the virtual sphere. The city youth have created yet another genre of popular culture that has grown from a few niche users to a scale where memorabilia and merchandise manufacturing is a profitable business venture.

Varsha Guha is yet another devoted fan of Candy Crush. She flaunts intricately designed Candy Crush nail art. She feels so attached to the game that she can’t stop till she clears two or three levels. The final year student of St Xavier’s College sounds quite proud and adds that she is ahead of her friends who are still struggling at the lower levels. Sometimes she finds it frustrating because the game is never-ending but then again she is happy that she can play for a long time.

Candy Crush nail art (tinyhandsonline.com)

While thousands of people are cutting Minion or Candy Crush cakes to celebrate an occasion every day, millions of others are showing off their Angry Birds T-shirts, phone covers and bedroom slippers. The characters from these games have entered the real world to become a part of not just our everyday life but also a billion-dollar industry that is growing on a global scale.

Nobody can question the popularity of these games. Many a time, devoted fans are found posting game-themed merchandise on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The intense addiction to these games even leads people to add strangers as ‘friends’ and ask them for ‘lives’ to help them reach the next level.

Temple Run T-shirt (cafepress.com)

Anwesha Roy belongs to this category. She asked a couple of unknown people to become ‘friends’ on Facebook just to give her more lives. Anwesha studies in GD Birla School and is crazy when it comes to popular titles such as Angry Birds, Temple Run, Agent Dash, Angry Gran Run and Brave. No wonder an adorable set of Angry Bird mini speakers adorn her bedside table.

It is an interesting shift in paradigm to observe. With technology we transformed real things into virtual existence. E-mail is a good example of this. As we are increasingly using e-mail to send the bulk of our written communication, the use of paper is becoming more and more rare. However, as virtually created scenarios and characters become more popular, we see them shifting out into real existence in the form of merchandise, accessories and memorabilia.

Written by Daniel Johns for Team M3.tv

Lead image: tictactown.com

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