Take cover and shoot!

Take cover and shoot!

If you spot people around you glued to their phones for hours on end, you have one game to blame PUBG PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds After Pokmon GO,...

If you spot people around you glued to their phones for hours on end, you have one game to blame – ‘PUBG’ (PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds). After ‘Pokémon GO’, this Battle Royale game has got people across the country hooked to it. The game is so addictive that a 15-year-old boy from Bengaluru was recently treated in a hospital due to his PUBG addiction.

Another gamer put up a question on Quora that read, “How do I stop playing PUBG?” And some people had suggestions for him to get over his addiction and uninstall the app. The game has apparently even hampered a few relationships! So, the next time you hear a couple fighting over PUBG, there’s no need to be shocked. However, here’s a reason to be shocked – a PUBG addict teen from Delhi was arrested recently for killing his family!

While the game went viral after being launched on PC over a year ago, the mobile version broke all records with 100 million installs. “I bought a new phone so that I can play PUBG,” admits 28-year-old gamer Debsu Maity, an employee at Amazon, Hyderabad. “I had a basic phone and since it is a high-end game and occupies quite a lot of space, I immediately purchased a new phone,” he explains.

An interesting feature of the game is that it lets you speak to people you’re playing with. “I got to know new people and made friends due to PUBG. Two or four people can play as a team and strategise together, so it’s also a good way to bond with friends. And when you’re stressed after work, instead of going out again or scrolling through your (sometimes boring) Instagram feed, you can use the time to play the game. Games like these help you improve your reflexes, strategise, make better decisions and help you stay calm,” Debsu points out.

The fact that the last man alive is greeted with the phrase “Winner winner chicken dinner,” fascinates 18-year-old student from the city Mohammed Abubakar. “It is said that the phrase comes from the gamblers during the ‘The Great Depression’, who would bet what they had to win a chicken dinner,” he informs. Mohammed, who started playing the game five months ago, adds, “I like how the game was created – 100 people get down the parachute, gather survival equipment, weapons and kill other people. You can also collect equipment from people you kill. The best part is that you can team with people from across the world. It’s a good way to chill and relax.”

Bharat Saka, a casual gamer and a Process Developer from the city, says that at any point of time there are four-five people in his Facebook friends’ list who are ready to play the game with him. “I started playing the game back in February. I would play with random people by auto matchmaking because I could not find many people playing the PC version within my friends’ circle. Initially, I did not play the mobile version as I thought that it would not be as gripping as the PC version. I eventually started playing the mobile version as most of my friends who would not even game that much started playing it and it was easy to access on phones.

The main reason people are addicted to PUBG is because it is a new genre of gaming. Battle Royale is not new but the most interesting thing about PUBG is that it is realistic, and you can anticipate the opponent's moves. If you take other games, the games are completely pre-designed. If you lose a game, you can restart it and play over the same thing again and again until you win. This will not work in PUBG because every match is a battle of the fittest. The mobile version is free to play and is equally intriguing as the PC version,” Bharat adds.

Interestingly, there are also PUBG championships happening around the globe. So, you can also make money while playing the game! At India’s first official PUBG Mobile Campus Championship, Mumbai’s winning team, ‘The Terrifying Nightmares’, took home a whopping cash prize of Rs 15,00,000. There are also similar championships for female gamers being held in China. Says Swati Mestri, a 30-year-old female gamer from Pune, “The game is so interesting and user-friendly at the same time that many girls are also playing it. I began playing the game when I saw my friend and brother playing. Now, I am addicted too.

I play it during office breaks and sometimes till 2 am in the morning. It’s a new way of socialising right now.” PUBG clearly popularised the Battle Royale genre, with other similar games now cropping up. After Paladins announced that it would create its own Battle Royale mode called ‘Paladins: Battlegrounds’ in January this year, they later created a spin-off called ‘Realm Royale’. On the other hand, ‘Fortnite’ was even sued for copying PUBG. And then ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ switched to the Battle Royale mode from the single-player mode for the first time. Experts say that there will be many more games copying PUBG in the near future.

Says Ishaan Arya, a professional gaming expert and global partner for PUBG, “The game was created by the same person who popularised the genre with previous projects like DayZ and H1Z1. It's the game that popularised the genre and helped make it mainstream with games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile now building off the platform created by PUBG.”

Talking about why the game went viral, Ishaan says, “PUBG is always exciting. Every match is different and tense, so it rarely gets monotonous. It's you and 99 other people either alone or in teams so it’s always a different experience. Personally, I really enjoy it too. I was one of the first who started streaming. I'm a global partner for PUBG as well. It's easily one of my favourite games.”

But experts also point out that the craze behind the game may die down soon if they don’t find ways to keep users hooked. “Look at Pokémon GO or Candy Crush, people eventually got bored. Maybe something better will come up and people will start playing that, just like PUBG. So, PUBG is adding new maps and weapons to keep people hooked. There’s a new update coming up too. A night mode in Erangel, a Halloween mode and a ‘share for deals’ feature among other things are to be added,” concludes Debsu.

- Shweta Watson

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