For many, ‘life is a game’ may just be a proverb. Not for Sunith Menon. Sunith is one of those ‘unconventional’ management students of SCMS-Cochin who come from an offbeat track, and go out to challenge and create new horizons in the corporate world. Sunith played his first video game in Class 2. But it was in Class 7 that he was introduced to a game called ‘Hitman Codename 47’, and straightaway knew that this is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
“Everybody has a desire to do something that’s not possible in the real world. Some would like to be glorious warriors of the past, fighting epic battles. Some might like to be a prince who courts danger; some an ethical assassin; and some who might like a piece of action from the two World Wars. This is not possible in reality, but you can do it in a game. Gaming is the realization of your unreal fantasies.’
All very nice, one might say. But Gaming in B-school? Isn’t that taking things a bit too far? Gaming is for kids, not for adults.
“Wrong,” responds Sunith promptly. “Most of the games released today are rated ‘17+’age wise, mostly due to the graphic violence. So if you think games are for children, well… think again. The average age of gamers is not 14 or 15; it’s above 25 years.”
Well, that clearly is news to most of us. But then what is a man with a passion for ‘Gaming’ doing in a reputed B-school like SCMS-Cochin?
“Over a period of time I’ve become adept at action games. To be good at these games you’ve got to have certain skills – timing, dodging attacks and traps, and problem solving. Many games have puzzles and ethical death traps. If you are in a role-playing game, for a better ending you definitely should be endowed with the right ethics. For example in the ‘Dragon Age’ game, the climax will vary depending on your decisions. You could marry the king’s widowed queen, thereby putting the old King’s brother in jail, who is your friend. Or you could cast him out which ruins his life and turns him into a drunkard, or you could make your friend a king and become his loyal servant. Now if you go for the first option of marrying the widowed queen, you will end up killing her father. Decision-making and problem solving are as important to gaming, as they are to Management. In some games you will have scarce resources; you can only have limited space to arrange your weapons, so you can either take a number of small pistols and ammo clip, or trade it for a shot gun. You are as often challenged by correct resource allocation in the gaming arena as you are in the corporate world.”
Management lessons through Gaming? That certainly is a new one. But in the case of Sunith Menon the philosophy seems to be holding water, since he is regarded by his batchmates as one of the smartest thinkers on his feet. Prior to SCMS-Cochin, Sunith had represented his college on a pan-India ‘Aspire 08’ gaming competition, and made it to the finals.
“The host college won,” recalls Sunith with a rueful smile, in a self-explanatory way. “My friend Gokul, currently in IIM Kolkata, led us as the rest of didn’t know much about counter strike. We played according to his strategies, simply obeyed him and made it to the finals. On a flip side, when next we had an ‘Aspire 08’ gaming competition it was at the college level. I had gained ample experience by then, and had teamed up with 3 equally great players. We failed miserably in the first level itself. There was no coordination amongst us. Everyone thought that they could single-handedly win the game. Do you know a better example conveying the importance of leadership and team coordination?”
Sunith certainly makes a point why almost every prominent B-school today actively supports gaming events and competitions. His favourite game is ‘Assassins Creed’, where a man, Desmond, by the use of a device called Animus, decodes the memories of his three ancestors. Sunith likes the way the story in the game connects with history.
“You meet great guys like Leornado da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and George Washington. On a given day, I usually play from morning 8 to night 10, with a couple of breaks in between. Since I only play games that have a character and a story, I associate with the characters so well that I don’t feel the hours fly by.”
He cites the example of ‘Prince of Persia – sands of time’ where the game turned out to be far more gripping than the movie. Sunith is clear that he would like to take his passion into the gaming industry. He believes that SCMS-Cochin is just the right takeoff point to his cherished ambitions.