As I walked along the sidewalk to my destination, I nearly fell into a pit. A gaping foot-wide hole in the pavement lay in wait for an unsuspecting passerby like me to stumble into. I almost lost my leg. A short distance away, a cow sat, idly munching on grass, staring at my ordeal as though it were a brief moment of entertainment. I crossed one last busy street in a real-life game of Frogger, the classic ’80s arcade game, as buzzing scooters darted by and cars with no intention of stopping whizzed past. Finally, I had made it to my destination: the League of Extraordinary Gamers, located in Indiranagar, a neighborhood in Bangalore, India.
Towering banners and signs promoting upcoming gaming events adorned a stunningly large, stark white building, nearly 5,000 square feet over three floors. Upon entering, I could hear in the distance the shouts of what sounded like an argument, but I soon realized it was a group of gamers shouting their strategic battle plans for a game of “League of Legends,” one of the most popular video games in India. The only light that illuminated their faces came from the bright green neon glow emanating from LEDs housed in computer towers. I was in a state-of-the-art video game lounge.
The owner, Aravind, who first took me into the lounge’s café to grab me a bottle of 7-Up, gave me a tour. The time of day that I arrived was a bit more relaxed than usual. He told me it usually gets so busy that people have to wait their turn to use one of the 50-some gaming computers on hand. People pay by the hour to play the games. Seventy rupees grants one hour of playtime. That’s just over one dollar.
One room was set up for the latest in console gaming. Groups of friends huddled around high-definition television screens, smiles and laughter abounding as they played a game of FIFA Soccer on a Playstation 4. Another group played the latest wrestling game.
I left this place in awe that such a lounge existed in India. Since my arrival in Bangalore five days earlier, all I had seen of the sprawling city was one small section. I can’t wait to see where I will go next. My journey around Bangalore has only just begun.–Peter Dorr