CAN GAMING BE TRULY INCLUSIVE? - The Daily Guardian
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CAN GAMING BE TRULY INCLUSIVE?

Noor Anand Chawla

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In 2022, gaming is no longer a mere form of entertainment – it is a way of life. When the pandemic locked the globe indoors, people turned to what was most easily available to pass the time and gaming picked up like never before. However, in its most traditional sense, gaming is far from inclusive. For example, can younger, newer, more diffident players enjoy its benefits with as much ease as everyone else? Unfortunately, till recently they could not. The WAFA voice-centric platform is here to change that.

Muhammed Aqib

Launched by Muhammed Aqib T P, this service was created with the mission to build a voice-centric socio-gaming platform that is easily accessible to all users. Aqib says, “WAFA creates a sense of belonging, imparting an ideal user experience to its community. It is a place to connect, hear and be heard. From allowing people to create their own rooms, be a moderator, participant or even take a seat in the audience with other passive listeners, to providing premium features of customized virtual gifts, user profiles and various other in-app purchases, WAFA is in a class by itself. Our aim is to create a virtual world that combines the best of all worlds and creates a riveting and enthralling experience to everyone in the metaverse.”

An alum of MSRIT, Aqib has a B-Tech in Electronic and Instrumentation Engineering and has a vast professional portfolio. When the 4G revolution hit India, voice-centric platforms became a reality, which gave Aqib the idea to create WAFA, whose voice chat feature offered gamers a crystal clear, seamless chat service. Its unique offerings and services allow users to find like-minded people to interact with and create memories together.

“There was a time when gaming was merely about playing games. In-game chatting, although widely used, was not user-friendly for group communication due to its limitation regarding the number of people joining in and its inability to have passive listeners. But gamers have since realised their desire to talk to their gaming friends even when they aren’t in a game. This included interactions that ran deeper than traditional in-game chatting. But now, with audio/voice chat, customisation of virtual gifts and effects, and excellent user support, gamers have access to a superior user experience,” he explains.

As of date, WAFA has been installed over three million times. Their user base mainly consists of Hindi speaking gamers followed by Tamil, Urdu, and Telugu, in the age group of 18 to 35. Over the next six months, the team plans to broaden its reach by focusing on Indians living in the Middle East region.

Their offerings include a localized user experience that supports multiple communities consisting of highly engaged and interactive users. They also include recommendation of rooms based on language and interests, and voice-centric localization of the product in terms of UI. Referring to Yalla and Roblox as direct competitors, WAFA claims to be a strong blend of the two as it combines a voice chat room with a virtual universe.

One unique feature that Aqib highlights is their content moderation. He shares, “Since computers are unable to successfully filter speech, our team takes content moderation very seriously. We use human intervention to judge the context of conversations. WAFA has more than a hundred content monitors to listen in on channels in real time, and thousands of rooms are being carefully monitored. The platform and community focus on casual conversations rather than controversial topics like politics/religion, thus maintaining a pleasant atmosphere throughout. Yet, users still have the choice to voluntarily submit complaint reports at any time.”

Having made their way to one of the top 20 grossing apps in PlayStore India in just one year, WAFA has witnessed tremendous growth. Their most popular service is the feature for User Room Battles which have their own gamification aspect. The average time spent by existing users on the app is 1.9 hours while the average time spent by new users is around 20 minutes. Looking ahead to the future, Aqib is developing a virtual world and environment in the metaverse that will provide Indians with excellent real-time social interaction, making it a virtual party – one that every gamer will be most happy to attend.

The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

SONU NIGAM DEDICATES HIS PADMA SHRI AWARD TO HIS MOTHER

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After being conferred with the Padma Shri award, singer Sonu Nigam expressed his happiness.

He issued a statement in which he shared that he would like to dedicate the award to his late mother Shobha Nigam. “January 25 was a rather special day for me and my family. I’m very thankful to the Government of India for thinking of me as a deserving candidate and bestowing me the Padma Shri. My heartfelt thanks to all those who selected me and suggested my name for this prestigious honour. I would also like to thank my mother, Shobha Nigam, and my father, Agam Kumar Nigam. In fact, I want to dedicate this award to my mother. Had she been here today, she would have cried a lot,” Sonu said. The ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ singer also thanked his gurus for teaching him the valuable lessons of music. “I would also take this opportunity to fold my hands before my gurus who have taught me so much. Whatever I know today is because of them and their blessings. Watching and listening to them has been a learning experience for me. My sincere gratitude to my friends and colleagues who have been a part of my journey, and my family who is my pillar of support,” the statement concluded

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KAREENA SPENDS ‘PERFECT AFTERNOON’ WITH BFFS

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MUMBAI : Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan on Wednesday afternoon spent some quality time with her friends Manish Malhotra, Karan Johar, and the Arora sisters, Malaika and Amrita.

Glimpses from their get-together were shared by Malhotra on his Instagram handle where the celebrity fashion designer posted a couple of pictures of them, in which the stars could be seen posing for the camera. He captioned the post as, “That perfect afternoon home with friends @kareenakapoorkhan @karanjohar @amuaroraofficial @malaikaaroraofficial missing you @therealkarismakapoor.”

The post garnered more than 17,000 likes within an hour of being shared and several fans of the celebs left heart and fire emojis in the comment section.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Kareena will be seen sharing screen space with Aamir Khan in ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’, which will release on Valentine’s Day, 2022. The film is a loose adaptation of Tom Hanks’ ‘Forrest Gump’. 

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B-TOWN EXTENDS HEARTFELT GREETINGS ON 73RD REPUBLIC DAY

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On the occasion of 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday, members of the film industry took to social media to extend their heartfelt greetings to everyone.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan shared a slew of photographs, a few of which show him dressed up in white and holding the Indian flag.

Taapsee Pannu shared an excerpt of the Indian Consitution that came into force in 1950. “OF the people FOR the people BY the people” Happy Republic Day to the PEOPLE of India #RepublicDay,” she wrote on Twitter.

Actor Shahid Kapoor shared a picture of a postal stamp from 26 January 1950, and wrote, “Happy Republic Day”. Filmmaker Karan Johar urged people to always celebrate our constitution. “To the spirit of our republic – may we continue to uphold, cherish and celebrate our constitution – the pillar that upholds the country’s values and binds it together in unity! Jai hind,” he posted on Instagram.

Actor Varun Dhawan sent out wishes on Republic Day by painting his cheeks in tricolour. He also posted a video of him unfurling the flag. “Had the absolute honour of unfurling the flag. #proudindian,” he wrote.

Actor Tiger Shroff uploaded a clip from his music video ‘Vande Mataram’ to mark the occasion. Republic Day is celebrated every year on January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Indian Constitution, which came into effect on this day in 1950.

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ANUSHKA’S MESSAGE TO NEW PARENTS PRIYANKA-NICK

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 A few days after Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas announced the birth of their baby, actor Anushka Sharma, on Wednesday, penned a cute wish for the new parents in town.

“Congratulations Priyanka and Nick. Get ready for sleepless nights and unparallel joy and love. Lots of love to the little one,” Anushka, the mother to one-year-old Vamika, wrote on her Instagram Story.

For the unversed, Priyanka and Nick welcomed their first child via surrogacy.

In a joint statement, the star couple had written, “We are overjoyed to confirm that we have welcomed a baby via surrogate. We respectfully ask for privacy during this special time as we focus on our family. Thank you so much.”

The couple refrained from revealing the gender of their child but several reports state that Priyanka and Nick have become proud parents to a baby girl. 

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PRATIK GANDHI SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH RICHA CHADHA

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MUMBAI: Ahead of the release of ‘The Great Indian Murder’, actor Pratik Gandhi opened up about his experience working with his co-star Richa Chadha.

“There are a lot of things I admire about Richa but one thing that I admire the most is, she is very passionate about her work and is very pure at heart and thought. Whatever she thinks she says, I can see that purity and passion in whatever she does,” he shared. ‘The Great Indian Murder’ has been taken from the pages of Vikas Swarup’s riveting novel, ‘Six Suspects’, which revolves around the murder of the son of a high-profile minister.

The project is helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and will be out on Disney+ Hotstar on February 4.

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PATRIOTIC AND HARD-HITTING WEB SERIES TO BINGE WATCH ON REPUBLIC DAY

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NEW DELHI: As India celebrates 73 years of becoming a republic on Wednesday, the Covid-19 pandemic has once again confined us to a subdued celebration. So while you celebrate Republic Day at home, we bring you a list of 5 web series you can binge-watch with your friends and family that is sure to arouse the feeling of patriotism in you.

‘Family Man’ Season 1 and 2: One of the most talked-about web series of 2019 and 2021, is the Manoj Bajpayee-starrer ‘The Family Man’. Manoj, as Shrikant Tiwari is a middle-class man secretly working as a senior officer in the Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell (TASK) and does everything in his strength and might to save his country. Both the seasons are edge-of-the-seat thrillers with drama and comedy sprinkled in it, in just the right amount.

‘Special Ops’ Season 1: This series stars Kay Kay Menon as Himmat Singh, a RAW agent investigating the prime suspects of the 2001 Parliament terror attack. The series is available on Disney+ Hotstar.

‘Bhaukaal’ Season 1 and 2: Inspired by true events, the web series ‘Bhaukaal’ is set in Muzaffarnagar in 2003, which was then better known as the crime capital of India, and the series tells the tale of how one courageous officer goes on a clean-up drive to punish criminals, battles local influential personalities and re-establishes the faith of the common man in the law. It is available for free on MX Player.

‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’: One aspect that everyone forgets when we speak about terror attacks is the impact it has on the hospitals. The first web series to show the reality of what doctors faced during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is this. The series is available on Amazon Prime.

‘Grahan’: A hard-hitting web series that is sure to leave any person teary-eyed is the 2021 web series, ‘Grahan’. Based on the Sikh Riots of 1984, the web series revolves around Inspector Amrita Singh (Zoya Hussain), who has been assigned in the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate and reopen the 1984 Sikh Riots in Bokaro, Jharkhand, only to discover that the main accused is her own father, Gursevak Singh, a Sikh himself.

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