In 2017, Pratik Chougule sat on the roof of his house in Dapoli, India snipping wires. He was building a FM antenna for his parents, so they could hear the radio stations in Mumbai, a large city more than 250 kilometers from Chougule’s small fishing village.
“I’m fond of radio because in my family, everyone is using the radio,” he says. “My grandfather was fond of radio. He also used to listen to songs every day in the morning. My mother also likes the radio while she’s cooking or doing some house chores.”
Chougule’s whole life has been about bringing people together, whether through a new antenna or a new AR app he built that allows you to find your car or friends. Now, as this computer science graduate starts FIEA in the programming track, he acknowledges the role his family plays back home.
“Most of the [Indian] parents don’t allow their children to play the games, because they take a lot of time,” Chougule says. “My parents are completely free and they have always given me the freedom to choose whichever stream I wish to go.”
This is not the typical reaction from most parents in India. “I will say the game development, the perception towards gaming in general in India is negative by Indian parents,” Chougule says.
Which is one of the reasons why he’s excited to come to the U.S. and continue his studies at UCF.
“It’s my dream to build engaging games for consoles and mobile devices,” he says. “Later, with my experience, I want to become an entrepreneur. I am pretty sure that I’ll meet like-minded students during my education at FIEA.”
“It’s my dream to build engaging games for consoles and mobile devices.”
Chougule has already established quite a reputation as an app developer. Inspired by the frustrations of many people at Shivaji University (where he graduated in 2016) who forgot where they parked their bike or vehicle, he created a cross-platform, augmented-reality app that helps track your vehicle’s location.
“Whenever you are leaving your vehicle, you just press one button which calculates your current latitude, longitude and altitude,” says Chougule of the app called OmniLocator. “And then there is another button called Track Vehicle. When you press that, it opens a camera view where you can turn your phone and when the vehicle gets into the field of view, it gets detected and it tells you that your car is here.”
Chougule thinks he might one day return home to help improve the perceptions of game developers in India. “The scene is changing,” Chougule says. “And now Ubisoft, Rockstar Games and Electronic Arts all have their studios in India. India is slowly adapting to the gaming culture.”
That’s music to Chougule’s ears.