BENGALURU: If you’re a woman and upset about the recent unfolding of the Sabarimala temple issue, here’s your chance to take control of the situation and rightfully gain entrance to the temple. In 2016, Padmini Ray Murray, along with Joel Johnson and Ketan KV Jain, designed a prototype for the Global Game Jam, an international event where designers have 48 hours to create a theme-based game. The game, Darshan Diversion, is a player versus player game, where one can choose to either play the priest or a woman trying to sneak past the priest to enter the temple.
“The idea stemmed from an article I read during the unfolding of events in 2016. Two quotes stood out – one was by women saying they would use helicopters and storm the temple, and the other was by a priest who said women won’t be allowed to enter the temple until a machine was able to tell if a woman is menstruating or not,” says Padmini, who runs the Masters in Digital Humanities programme at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She adds that since the theme of Game Jam was ‘rituals’, “the absurdity of the situation lent itself well to the theme.”
While the game was designed in 2016, Padmini says it still holds relevance today. “The situation is worse today. The clergy claiming to uphold the traditions of the temple don’t even belong to the indigenous community that originally prayed at the temple. This community, in fact, has no problem with women entering the temple,” she says.
In a case of life imitating art, the game designer who coded the game, didn’t understand Padmini’s issue with the Sabarimala row. “He said that this was a common issue with most temples and didn’t find the Sabarimala issue to be any different,” she says. At the Game Jam too (which had a ratio of about two women to 46 men), Padmini says that some men were uncomfortable with the game’s idea, but the overall response was good.
As for her friend, Padmini says, “He made an effort to find out why the issue blew up so much. And did eventually come around.”The game is currently available on Windows and can be downloaded from globalgamejam.org/2016/games/darshan-diversion.