Mumbai Terror Attacks on 26/11 has impacted thousands of people directly, millions of people across the globe who saw the event unfold on television, internet, twitter & facebook were also deeply impacted. For the next couple of months there were public demonstrations, media reports, blogs CEOs, Politicians, Teachers, street vendors, taxi drivers housewife almost everyone had a viewpoint. We got mad at the media, abused the government and politicians, blamed corruption, lack of planning, bad equipment, no coordination between agencies, Pakistan, Raj Thackeray, Shiv Sena, America, George Bush and everything under the sun for the Mumbai Terror Attacks
I must admit I too was suffering from the soda bottle effect, where initially it was all the bubble fizz of agitation but slowly things started to settle down and life got back to normal and 26/11 became a phrase Indian’s started to use with a bit of ‘pride’ it was India’s 9/11 and became a much popular topic of discussion whenever I met friends and business associations abroad.
few months post the 26.11 massacre, we received an interesting email and phone call from Bihar, a kid claiming to be a game developer and wanting to meet us to discuss a proposal. We took it lightly however we did agree to meet the kid in person to see what he has. The first meeting was conducted by Sachin Janghel our Technology Head, Samir Bangara our COO and Reena George our Head of Human Resources. They were so impressed that they wanted me to meet the kid. When I first saw Shivam Gupta, I saw this timid little boy, with a smile, a bit nervous who had come along with his dad Mr. Gupta. Initially Mr. Gupta, who is a school teacher in a government school, initially did all the talking. And told us about Shivamâs love for gaming, animation and how he is surfing the internet and learning all these new technologies. The further explained us about a medical condition Shivam is suffering called, âKlippel-Trenaunay Syndromeâ( http://k-t.org/) where one half of his body is growing faster than the other, the first such medical case in India. He showed us medical reports and talked about the help he is receiving from experts in India and all over the world in treating Shivam. His dad is making sure that since gaming & game development seems to be his sonâs passion, he is making every possible effort to get this son to meet us at Indiagames. It was a touching story but still we were skeptical what kind of game could a 13 year old kid make? He comes from Patna a city in Bihar, he canât even speak fluent English, he did show us some demos which he claimed he developed, but anyone can download stuff from the internet and say he made it, I thought maybe we will give him some pep-talk and let him go.
However I let our senior programmers and designer interview him to see what this kid really knows. The interview shockingly lasted a few hours and post that the response I got from my team was ‘This Kid possibly knows as much as some of our trained programmers’. Now I was not expecting this, we immediately had an internal meeting and decided that we will do everything to support and help Shivam to fulfill his dream of becoming a games programmer. He was introduced to Varun Bhavnani our lead game designer who along with Sachin Janghel our Director of Technology set to work. Their task was to come up with a game which Shivam wanted to develop. Shivam worked from his home in Patna in between going to school and was connected with our team over email, phone, chat etc.
Fast forward 2 months. Shivam reverted to us with an idea to develop a game on The Mumbai Terror Attacks of 26/11 where you get the play a NSG commando wherein the objective was to fight terrorists and rescue the hostages, re-enacting history. His idea was that since millions of people sat helplessly sitting in front of TV sets the terrorists killing innocent people, he wanted to enable a common citizen an ability to take on the terrorist and at the same time remind people about the Mumbai Terror Attacks. Suddenly my thoughts went back straight to 26/11 and the soda bottle effect. I thought young Shivam has come up with a unique idea in the era of social media and power to the crowd, enabling millions of people to virtually experience the 26/11 incident with an ability to save innocents life would clearly be appreciated by one and all. At the same time the terrorists and bad guys across the world will get the message that even a 13year old kid in India has the imagination and idea to take on these evil men. We immediately green lit the project and the funding for the same. Shivam guided by Varun our lead designer started work on a 3D game to be made available online free of cost. All the programming work was done by Shivam from his home in Patna and he made a few trips to Mumbai to gain feedback from us on how he could turn it better and better. We then thought why not develop a 2D mobile game along the same lines to get a âMass effectâ to nurture this childâs perception, also since we wanted to make sure this game is available as widely as possible
Both games are in hardcore development and we are all set to release it in January. However we thought wouldnât 26.11.09 be the ideal day to unveil this grand and ambitious project conceived and developed by Shivam possibly the worldâs youngest game programmer. Shivam despite all his health issues, his modest background, limited finances & small city upbringing has the courage to dream big and work towards it. I and my team are honored to be part of Shivams grand project. I started my career with a game on the Kargil War, made Yoddha both targeted against terrorism. And I believe with this game and significant contribution towards Shivamâs passion I have grown as an individual, a father and a friend.
I bow my head in respect and regards to Mr D.K Gupta, Shivamâs father who has extended his whole hearted support to Shivam, Mr. Gupta took leave from teaching and stood by Shivamâs side all the time, encouraging Shivam, provided him financial support with his limited income, took him to all the doctors to treat his condition, and unlike other parents who would normally shrug a kids interest in sports, arts or gaming, he has taken Shivam to tread the path which will make everyone in the world proud of him.
âAll men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act on their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.â