As kids, our ambitions are often to reach for the stars and live the sci-fi dreams that are presented by cartoons or movies. For 15-year-old Narayan Karthikeyan though, it was not just a dream; he went on to be a part of something big. The new Space Jam movie just came out but back in December, the Xbox team came together with the movie creators to let fans work on a game idea. In this global competition, India’s Karthikeyan won both the overall as well as the youth category. Also Read - 6 new games added to Xbox Game Pass in July again, UFC 2 and four other leaving soon
The result? He got to sit with the Xbox team and saw his ideas come to life in the Space Jam: A New Legacy – The Game. If you have Game Pass, you can try it out for free on Xbox consoles as well as PCs. We tried it out ourselves and after having many great hours of old-school wham-bam action, we couldn’t wait to talk to Karthikeyan. Also Read - 9 new games join Xbox Game Pass in July; 8 leave the platform
Following is a transcription of our short conversation with the boy wonder. Also Read - Xbox celebrates Pride Month with free games, colourful controller, new gaming features, merchandise and more
15-year-old jams with the Xbox team for the Space Jam game
Q: How does it feel to see your name on the cover of a game, that too for such an iconic franchise?
NK: It felt amazing, it was a feeling that I can’t explain in words. This is like a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to make amazing stories and make them accessible to the world and I see this as the first step towards my goal.
Q: We tried the game ourselves and it was great fun. Where did the inspiration come from? Was the retro “wham-bam” theme your thing?
NK: First of all, I am a total nerd and pop culture fan but mainly, my inspiration was some of the classic games I played, I have always been a fan of 80s and 90s classic arcade games, The classic Sonic the hedgehog, Mortal Kombat are my favourite classics. So, these were my inspirations. The ‘beat ’em up’ element of the game was Ricky’s (the adult winner) idea and I suggested a shooting, action-platformer and the final product is a combination of both, further on I also suggested certain power-ups and attacks which can be found in the game.
Q: Being associated with Xbox is special. You got to work with the team responsible for some iconic games over the last few decades! What was your experience?
NK: The experience was golden and one I will cherish. Once I got to know that my idea was one among the two ideas which would be made into the game, I was excited. During the development phase, there was a Microsoft Teams call where the developers told me how they are planning on incorporating both ideas into the game and how the game will look after that. The best things I got out of this experience was learning and understanding the effort and dedication these amazing people put into the games behind the scenes. And personally, I think it is something which is overlooked as most people see games as only entertainment and do not notice the amazing dedication put into the game
Q: I hope Space Jam: A New Legacy is just the beginning for you. Are there plans to pursue your career in game development?
NK: Absolutely, I have more amazing ideas up my sleeve and I hope that one day I will be able to bring them out to the world. I would love to work on the creative sides of games as I love building up worlds, characters, and stories.
Q: Gaming is still seen as a casual time pass activity in India. Do you think our education system should accommodate gaming as a serious career option for youngsters now?
NK: This is something which I have thought about and yes, it is true, gaming is seen as just a casual activity here in India, but it deserves much more love considering the dedication the developers and the designers put into the game is the same as a painter painting a picture or a director making a film. A game is the result of the hard work of a lot of people and gaming as a career is something which I think India should focus on because we have a lot of opportunities in that field. Also, there are a lot of people out there who will have amazing ideas, so if gaming as a career is something which is taken seriously, we will be able to see a lot of development.