"Many of my friends in Ludhiana play online games like chess, billiards and cards," Khushi said. A student of class three, Khusi of Ludhiana has many friends with whom she plays online games.
In Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Jalandhar and even Amritsar, one finds the young trying their hand at games of skill against unknown masterminds across the globe. Dead or Alive 4, NFS or Need for Speed, Age of Empires and House of Dead are some of the games popular among youngsters.
"It's very exciting. I have been playing online games for the last-one-and-a-half-years. Everyday win-lose situations keep happening. We play games with unknown partners and win brings joy," said Mandeep Singh, online player.
With the increasing popularity of broadband connections and data cards, this fad is becoming wild. "Online gaming is not just enjoyment but is gradually developing to a profession. There are many groups abroad who have perfected online gaming and they participate in national and international championships. It is more like a World Cup Cricket tournament," says Vinay Sharma, a service provider, online gaming.
In India, the online gaming market is gathering steam with some 40 million broadband connections. But, is the trend welcome? "There's a lot of anonymity, they can vent out their frustrations, their anger and whatever feelings they have which are not socially acceptable, they can vent it out on net. Because of its anonymity, nobody generally gets to know who they are," said Namrata Mohan, a Psychologist.
"In America, one out of five kids is addicted to net. I am sure India is in the same race. China has taken up a very good measure that they have started net D-addiction centers. Soon, India should also take these measures. They should not wait for this situation to come but should be taken on precautionary measures," Mohan added.
Be it Punjab or any state, the youngsters are exploring newer innovations, technologies and trends. But, the danger lies in the young minds becoming couch potatoes by becoming addicted to these games.