“Somebody has to take the first step and go an extra mile”: Archishman ‘FeTT’ Pradhan7 min read
Going by his gaming name ‘FeTT’, Archishman Pradhan is an avid e-sport player, content developer and a seasoned CS:GO caster. Apart from CS:GO, Pradhan streams other online games such as Apex Legends, Playerunknown’s Battleground (PUBG), Call Of Duty, and does various game-related podcasts on his YouTube channel ‘Fett’s Corner’. In his first ever public talk, he addressed the students of the School of Communication (SOC), Manipal on the final day of the college’s annual media event Article-19.
The following are the excerpts from his interview with The Manipal Journal.
To begin on a personal note, what got you into video gaming? What’s the story behind your gaming name?
I was essentially bad at sports. I got injured while playing Badminton and couldn’t make much headway with it, so I would sit at home and play the thousand and one cartridge games we would get as kids. I started playing Contra (a run and gun video game developed and published by Japanese company Konami) on that and I really liked it. I was around eight or nine years old back then and have been into gaming ever since. I went on to play Contra until I was 15 or 16 years old, but my parents just couldn’t see how much video games meant to me and made a rule at home, asking me to buy my own video games by saving up for them. This continued until I was old enough to get a scholarship and buy my own Xbox 360. As for my gaming name, I’m a huge fan of Star Wars. Like I said before, I was really horrible at playing sports, and while gaming too, end up dying in vain sometimes. In Star Wars both Boba Fett and Jango Fett die ridiculously useless deaths. I couldn’t decide who died a more useless death so I just took up the family name.
Why do you think most people look down on e-sports, when it is categorised as a sport? Do you feel that e-sports should be included in the Olympics to be recognised as a sport?
The competitive aspect of e-sport is just around two decades old. So, it will definitely take time for e-sport to gain recognition. Take football for example – it’s a game where players score goals and was basically played when it was too cold to play cricket, starting from England. It wasn’t considered to be a sport back then but over a period of time it gradually got regularised. People started coming to watch this game and that’s when it took a turn for the good. Anything that requires skills and has an audience that is willing to spend to watch can be called a sport. E-sport, all put together is actually very massive. Take League of Legends (LoL) for example, the LoL World Championship Finals had more viewers than the finals of the NBA and NFL Super Bowl. These are the most exalted sporting events in the United States but more people evidently tuned in to watch these ‘video games’. This is because e-sports has a global audience who operate via the internet. Traditional media does not take us seriously, but that’s fine. Ninja (who is the top streamer of online game ‘Fortnite’) was on the cover of ESPN and such things don’t happen as often. Slowly but surely, things are changing and things will change for e-sports, even in India.
Speaking of recent developments, in the 2018 Asian Games, e-sport players weren’t given perks like the other sportsmen under the contract they were made to sign. What do you think of the divide that exists between e-sport players and the others?
Traditional sporting bodies that govern events like the Olympics and the Asian Games will take some time to come to terms with the fact that millions and millions of people are now watching people play video games. They can’t wrap their heads around it because to them, it’s absurd. What they don’t get is that footballers like Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial, or any other 16 or 17-year old football player for that matter, are earning millions by just kicking a ball. At the core of it, what finally matters is that – people enjoy watching football. In that way, I enjoy watching Counterstrike, it is one and the same. E-sport may just be a part of a subcategory today but once they are normalised, they will be part of the mainstream categories. The way the Asian Games e-sport contingent from India was treated was extremely ‘shady’ and was picked up by international media. Even Richard Lewis, who is one of the most celebrated e-sport journalist in the world picked it up. Almost everybody in the e-gaming world had a go at the poorly worded contract, these players were asked to sign.
Moving on to the Indian e-sports situation, competitive e-sports here are still in infancy. What do you think is necessary to allow e-sports to emerge as mainstream spectator sports in India?
The first ingredient has been provided, which is the internet. I would say that it is quite freely available here now. A lot of people have started to watch gaming videos, thanks to people like Carryminati (Ajey Nagar). We need powerful influencers like him who can inspire people to watch e-sports in India. It is only in the last two to three years that we have seen significant funding on e-sports in India. Also, the players need to be marketable and trained on how to behave in front of a camera and learn how to handle their social media. A lot of players have had goes at each other because they aren’t trained on how to behave in the eyes of the public. This is because of the LAN (Local Area Network) culture of cafes, and no exposure to the actual world. These players need to come out of these cafes and see how e-sport professionals behave in the real world and learn some behavioural etiquette from them.
You’ve made a household name for yourself in the field of Indian e-sports. Where do you think we are headed to with e-sports when in comparison with the global scenario?
We are headed more or less in the same direction, right now the drive is to replicate what is being done abroad. The problem that I find with this, is that we are also copying things that haven’t worked abroad to try and see if they will work here. This irks me. We don’t have the technical skills to pull it off, more importantly, we lack the requisite technical skills to pull it off. We know what we need, but we just don’t have people who can get it done. That’s something that the e-sports industry in India desperately needs. The other thing we lack in is a good show, which is something that requires a lot of people backstage. We only have one company that does it and because there is no viewership there is an added monetary constraint. Somebody has to take the first step and go an extra mile. Dreamhacks (a three-day e-sports festival) that took place in Mumbai was amazing, even though it had its ground problems. As a result, we have ESL One – Mumbai happening this month which is one of the biggest DOTA tournaments in the world.
Article-19, SOC’s annual media event, runs along the lines of one’s right to freedom of speech and expression. How do you think the lines between e-sports and freedom of expression conjoin?
Gamers can be politically incorrect sometimes and as we know, freedom of expression isn’t absolute in India. If one is an aspiring e-sport player, they would want to be recognised on a global level. And if you want that, you can’t have too many controversies surrounding you. In order to do that, we will have to be very cut and dried, very cautious. As a caster, where my job is based on expressing myself during the games in ways that are as interesting as possible, there are limitations, but we, as professionals make the best of what is possible. We will have to be very careful because we can’t be suggestive, sexist or racist. The occasional ‘F-bomb’ is okay, but not in India. We can’t say words like shit or even ass though it simply means a donkey. Like any other entertainment industry, we can’t just go around mouthing off others if we’re someone who’s in the public light.
Edited by: Tarush Dhume