War heroes to NEP, govt plans mobile, web games on ‘national interest themes’ for civic engagement

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New Delhi: Battle it out with different types of enemies as a yodha, level up to maha yodha and even param yodha, pick up items and upgrades, all in gorgeous 3D — this isn’t an ad for the next edition of your favourite RPG, but an example of the sort of game that could be developed under a new government initiative.

The central government is planning to leverage mobile and web-based games to increase civic engagement, as well as help improve mental health, bring in behavioural change and develop problem-solving and decision-making skills among citizens.

MyGov — the citizen engagement platform under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) — has invited proposals for the development of user-friendly games based on themes of national interest.

“With the rise of the internet, social media, and considering the interest level, the time has now come for designing new models for citizen engagement,” said the Request for Empanelment (RFE) document issued last week (7 November) available on MeitY’s website. 

“Many research studies depict that games are a great tool for improving public understanding, creating awareness, seeking feedback, learning development and information dissemination,” it added.

MyGov, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2014, has more than 3.41 crore registered users, and is leveraged by almost all government departments for citizen engagement activities, consultations and dissemination of information to citizens.

Through the RFE, MyGov intends to develop an enabling environment, and introduce the concept of strategic and tactical approaches for greater citizen engagement through games, read the document.

It added that “it is looking to develop mega (large scale) and mini (small scale) games for greater participation and engagement of citizens and for meaningful dissemination of information.”

“Games are self-motivating systems, and for the past several years, game designers have evolved interactive techniques to generate emotion, encourage problem-solving, change behaviour, disseminating information through educational videos etc., through various games,” MyGov said in the document.

It added that games help the citizens stay connected and get engaged for a longer time.

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Features and objectives

The games developed will be based on “themes of national interest”, such as the National Education Policy, city planning and urban development, climate change, rural development, National Agriculture Policy, LiFE (Building a Sustainable Future), My Culture My Pride, war heroes and Swachhta Mission. 

These can be developed either as puzzle games — such as crossword, word search, number, find the difference or logic puzzles — to attract citizens of all ages, or as word games to engage students. These could also be trivia games, shooting, racing, hidden objects, endless runner and quizzes.

In the document, MyGov has also enlisted 10 broad objectives that the government intends to achieve by making these games.

These include increased civic engagement and contribution to society, creating awareness, dissemination of meaningful information, bringing behavioural change, skill development by learning, building problem-solving skills, developing decision-making skills through role-playing, developing creative thinking and improving mental health (improved mood, relaxation, positive emotions and lower levels of anxiety and stress), and enabling citizens to engage and give suggestions for solving public challenges.

According to the document, the games need to be user-friendly, easy to learn, play and engage. 

Additionally, they should have great controls and navigation, an interesting theme and visual style, excellent sound and music, captivating worlds and entertaining storylines, memorable characters and a good balance of challenge and reward.

An example of a game concept: war heroes

Giving an example of a game concept, the document said that, for a theme like war heroes, the service provider may develop a three-stage mission with different targets. 

With each stage, life, power and responsibility can be increased. Once a user completes a set of defined missions in Stage 1, they could become “Yodha (warrior)”. 

Similarly, users can claim the titles of “Maha Yodha (great warrior)” and “Param Yodha (ultimate warrior)”, after completion of stages 2 and 3, respectively.

To play the game, users will have to sign up to MyGov. 

According to MyGov, the game should offer features like the ability to create personalised avatars, realistic 3D graphics, “a feast for your eyes, with post-process effects to create an immersive cinematic experience”.

The games should also be of high resolution and visually appealing with a wide range of artillery, multiple enemy types, various pickup items, and upgrades. 

“The storyline/storyboard should incorporate roles of individual different types of users, which may be dependent on age, gender and type of user, i.e., citizen, resident, NRI etc. These roles can interact with one another and individually, to portray the context,” it added.

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How to apply

The RFE has invited interested bidders to send participation bids “to design, develop, implement, and maintain the gaming platform and develop large/small games for MyGov”. 

The interested service providers can submit their proposal to MyGov, and the applicants selected will then be issued a Request for Quotation (RFQ). The last date for submission of the application is 27 November.

The developer will need to develop a storyline, concept, characters, themes and genres, and the games could be mini-games with a playtime of up to an hour, or mega-games that could be played for a longer duration in stages and phases. 

The game should also be designed in a way that is accessible to persons with disabilities. 

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

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