Thursday, February 22, 2007

Seven Questions for Sumit Mehra

The 'Seven Questions For' series is intended to bring readers closer to some of the more interesting people in the Indian gaming industry, and pick their brains on issue serious and frivolous. And who better to start off the show with than Sumit Mehra, the ever popular, smiling face behind the award-winning UNO. One of the most experienced and knowledgeable veterans in Indian gaming, you can learn more about Sumit at his blog. Oh, well. Here goes -

1. You've been a game developer in India even before the industry really took off. In your opinion, what have been the key moments or turning points that the Indian gaming industry can look to as milestones today?

In no particular order:

  • India Games getting the Spider-man deal.
  • Dhruva features in Tom Friedman's new book, "The World is Flat"
  • IGDA forum realizing and accepting 4 separate Indian chapters
  • Jamdat and Gameloft opening studios in India
  • Reliance getting games to mainstream with Zapak.
  • Microsoft’s official Xbxo360 India release
  • Nasscom starting an Animation and Gaming Conference.

2. There seems to be a lot of focus on the domestic casual gaming (mobile
and online) market? What kind of original Indian content do you see doing
well here?

In short term I can foresee lot of Television and Bollywood content being
super popular; I don’t see this changing for mobile games but online games
would be a tougher nut to crack - without game play it would be very hard
to sell games online.

Bollywood and regional movie industries (Tollywood) will always motivate
game developers to build movie-based content. I won’t be surprised to see some
Indian comic content and some epic stories tuning up into interesting
online games.

3. Online downloadable vs. mobile?

Looking at the current state of Indian Game Industry I would say mobile
games but in the current global state – both have their own space and are
doing equally well.

Though I see mobile game developers having tougher times ahead; they would
need to build high quality game content and more complex game mechanics
for high end phones and at the same time they would need to make these
games run on the low end phones. No surprises if they would actually end
up making two different versions for the same game.

But I am putting my money on CAS, DHT and/or IPTV for providing play

4. How do you get an Indian housewife to play games?

Easily accessible multiplayer social games might be the key. We would need
to re-think the idea of what video games are. Jump, shoot and dodge is
not happening at all.

The problem is when we talk about India we talk about a mammoth
population, my gut feeling says no matter how much I hate the family
drama serials on Star, Sony and Zee, they are successful for a reason.
Maybe this is what Indian housewives want; I won’t be surprised if we can
have game with similar content - but I am sure that the game needs a very
simple mechanic, nothing more than pressing a button and making a choice.

I really like the Women in Games Development Special Interest group. I
strongly believe that we need some women game designers to actually design
games for women.

5. One unforgettable gaming moment ?

8 vs. 8 players capture the flag; Unreal Tournament; Face level. The game
lasted almost 5 hours. With 4 snipers on each side and 4 assault warrior
running all over to capture the flags. I have never ever had more fun
playing any game in my life. (the other 15 players were game developers
and my colleagues and many learned the meaning of game play that day)

6. Worst game design idea ever?

In my opinion game design ideas are never bad; it is the hopeless
implementation that makes them useless.

Worst implementations according to me

Mobile: Day after tomorrow
PC (Rom based): Knight Rider
Console: Shrek

7. Your dream game that hasn't been made yet (what you'd like to play)?

The name of the game is “Chef Rastogi and the food stealing aliens”,
someday I plan to make this, not sure when :)


  1. a very interesting interview. Sumit is without doubt one of the most interesting gaming professional I've met. His attitude towards the indian gaming scene is very commendable. Kudos to him!
    and to the interviewer, a good start in this series.

  2. Anand

    Thanks! For those kind introduction words, to be honest it is a bit over board than the reality, but I am not complaining and will enjoy my 15 minutes of fame.

    I am eagerly waiting to read your answers. @Anand! Srini is the guy you should be interviewing

  3. Great interview idea. I like the 7 questions thing. Just long enough to pack enough info but short enough for a good read.

    Maybe the questions could differ each time?

    Sumit is a great person to start with.

    AXE 316

  4. Great interview. It has a tiny duality which serves another purpose of letting people know "what's new" in the casual scene. I really liked it. :)

  5. I gave a plug to this site on my team page. Chk out\surface then go to about and then to meet the team, read my profile its the first one :)


  6. Great interview!

  7. Your blog is nice. I think you should add your blog at and let more people discover your blog. It's a great place for Indian bloggers to be in and I am sure it would do wonders for your blog.

  8. gr8 questions,no of the main question missing according to me is where does Indian gaming industry stands 5 yrs. frm now specially when gaming portal like is having a gaming championship for CS, Fifa and Flatout in 5 cities - Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. With a grand price of Rs.10,000. and the rest details at

  9. An interesting read, indeed.
    A very nice interview

    Indian gaming has sure come of age.

    Indians are now experimenting with Indian themes. Themes that are Indian in taste, but can be

    leveraged on a global scale.

    For example this game based on the extended Indian marriage tradition, called "The Great Indian Arranged Marriage"