What Is Indo-Futurism and Why It Matters for Indus Battle Royale, India, and Even You

Rishi Alwani
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When we revealed Indus we hinted that it would contain aspects of Indian culture with a futuristic twist. Now, we’re revealing more of what to expect in terms of Indus’ themes, lore, and world-building. The central concept upon which Indus is built: Indo-Futurism. While we have touched upon Indo-Futurism in the past, we’ve never truly outlined what it is, what it means, and why it matters. That is of course, until now.

For the short version, check out our video on Indo-Futurism. For more details, keep reading.

Indo-Futurism origins

Indo-Futurism began from what we Indians are familiar with — history. Everyone knows of the Indus Valley Civilisation from those two chapters in our history textbooks. It’s relatable and authentic to most. However, we didn’t want to make a game that had you using primitive weapons or have a high fantasy setting. That wouldn’t be as grand. Or fun.

We thought about a few ‘What If’ scenarios, one that stood out was — ‘What if instead of going extinct, the Indus Valley Civilisation advanced to the space age? And what if we extrapolated that to an entire planet rather than just a river valley?’ This was our launchpad.

Inspirations of Indo-Futurism

While we had an idea of what Indo-Futurism could be, we weren’t really excited by the idea. Not just yet. That’s where Black Panther’s take on Afro-Futurism came in.

The interpretation of Wakanda being the most advanced city complete with themes that combine Africa’s rich heritage with a hopeful future was truly inspirational. While we had some previous story outlines including a mysterious island that would hover above planets in the galaxy and the Olympics, Indo-Futurism stood out.

After all, crafting a game that surfaces India’s glorious past with a hopeful future is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What is Indo-Futurism?

We don’t look at this as a way to simply show off India and its culture as you already know it and call it a day. Rather, we want to surface those parts that may not be really well known, but deserve recognition — locally and internationally. More importantly we want revisit them through the positive, hopeful lens of Indo-Futurism.

One example of this is Jatayu. In the Ramayana this mythical creature represented bravery amidst impossible odds — even if it ultimately meant death. However to us, Jatayu isn’t just a symbol of bravery — it's also one of hope, like a phoenix destined to rise from the ashes. This is how we’ve tried to represent Jatayu in Indus through Indo-Futurism.

Indo-Futurism is about setting your mind free and imagining a world which is unapologetically Indian in its exploration and representation of science fiction.

Why Indo-Futurism?

Well, the representation of India in games isn’t where it should be. A map here, a level there, a couple of characters of Indian origin thrown in…don’t get us wrong, some of these are exceptionally polished and even accurate — but we want to do more.

Closer to home, Indian Science Fiction is perceived as derivative and gimmicky or as a vehicle to push the superhero genre.

We want to try to do better.

After all, many countries have their own take on sci-fi that’s rooted in their culture. We've seen this with Dr. Who originating and taking inspiration from the UK, Godzilla from Japan, and even the Fallout series from the US.

India is missing. The goal is to create a sci-fi universe that represents India and its ideas while being inclusive.

The five pillars of Indo-Futurism

With this in mind, we set about creating what we feel are the core pillars of Indo-Futurism.  They’re as follows:

  1. Indian
  1. Futurism
  1. Culture
  1. Science
  1. Optimism

While the first two are abundantly obvious, given that this well, called Indo-Futurism, the other three are as important when you consider what science fiction usually is.

Science fiction and the world of Indus

Science fiction is commonly associated with post-humanism, dystopia, and at times, a general feeling of unbearable dread, the objective of Indo-Futurism is to use these pillars to create world that’s positive and optimistic.

The world of Indus is one that’s solved many of its key societal issues, its inhabitants have a deeper understanding of their part in the universe, and believe in using technology to better society.

At the same time it pays homage to Indian heritage with futuristic yet tasteful representations of Indian mythology as well as other elements of culture including art and traditions.

So why does this matter to a video game?

While we’ve been explaining the origins of Indo-Futurism and why it matters, this is still a battle royale with all the guns, systems, and gameplay you’d expect. But story, world-building, and a reason to keep coming back are just as important.

With Indus we want to inspire you to see what Indian Science Fiction could be and create a new genre told through games.

Our hope is that through Indo-Futurism in Indus, is to create a universe for you to play in and experience with your friends and have your own adventures and stories to tell as you explore the mysteries on Virlok.

A universe that’s different and just as important— your own.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be revealing more of Indus’ lore, story, and characters across our Twitter, Discord, YouTube, and Instagram as well as deep dives on our blog when necessary.