TechTatva was inaugurated in 2006 as a technical fest similar to Revels. With each coming year, the fest grew. Whether it be sitting in AB3 and competing in the hackathon or being dragged to the food stalls by your friends, TechTatva provides us with four days of fun, excitement, and pure bliss. 2020, however, took a dark turn, and we were all quarantined. What used to be a lively campus is now a deserted one, wondering what went wrong.
Welcome to TechTatva 2020, where we’re all stuck in an unfortunate situation. This year’s theme— Transforming Paradigms— gave us the perfect opportunity to bring you a virtual reality of what TechTatva could have been. COVID-19 is out to get us, and be sure to avoid crowds, for who knows whether one of them is infected! Your main goal is to reach Food Court-1 after completing your missions, so put in your username and get ready to experience this fest in a way never done before!
I open my eyes to see myself seated in a room, filled with ten more students, hunched over their laptops. The seating, the blackboard, as well as the two exits, made me realise that I’m in NLH. I look in front of myself into the laptop placed on the table as it asks me to solve a code to participate in the event and finish one of my missions. As soon as I press enter for my answer, I’m told I can proceed to other events and have fun.
I step out and look around. The ground floor of AB3 is filled with placards and directions for events. I see a crowd approaching. I press the buttons saying ‘Mask’ instantly, only to see a notification reading, “Mask is already placed. Do you want to wear a new mask?” After pressing no, I walk towards the washroom, away from the crowd heading towards the staircase. I quickly sanitise myself before running out of the building.
I open up the missions tab and read out the unfinished tasks. I am supposed to eat from at least two of the food stalls. Moreover, I have to play one of the games around AB3 or participate in a non-technical event. The most important mission was to avoid catching the virus. How hard could it be, right?
I decided I’d roam around once before completing my missions. On one of the tables, two people were participating in a challenge of Bottle Flip. A battle between two robots engaged next to that. The steps leading to the Innovation Centre gave a place to sit to those tired from running around the fest, facing a stage made for dancing and singing events. Next to the stage stood the informals photo booth with all of its props.
I ran to the road behind the Innovation Centre, known famously to hold all the food stalls during fests. I notice the stalls selling a variety of food items, ranging from kathi rolls to pizzas to everyone’s favourite, ice golas. I look down the road— once I’m done with all my missions, I have to run this same road to the Food Court, when something catches my eye. I shut my eyes, unsure if I just imagined it. When I open them, it’s closer, and I realise I wasn’t mistaken. The tiny green blobs that I had hoped not to encounter so early, the main villain— COVID-19.
Closing my eyes makes me lose balance, falling suddenly on my backside. Virtual reality still hurts the same as real life, unfortunately. Also, the virus seems to spawn only in large clusters of people so I have to avoid those at all cost. As tempting as the rolls may be, I need to skip on them for now if I have to survive.
So I rush to the games by AB5 to get done with the list. AB5, being a maze that it is, would mean lesser crowds and more scattered people. Less of a hindrance to my ability to do tasks. That was until I realised my below average IQ would be the real roadblock to solving my task that would turn out to be sudoku. Can’t imagine a few numbers would stand between me and an elusive gold medal after solving a long line of clues to get here. I had the advantage of time since I was the first person who had successfully managed to solve all the clues.
Ultimately I did manage to finish, albeit after 2 other people caught up to me and finished it before me. Alas, the task did not require me to earn a gold medal, only to complete it successfully. Although it yielded me lesser food tokens, I had managed to take long enough that the crowds surrounding the food stalls had dispersed—which meant I could finally devour my hunger, and more importantly, the tasks.
It did not prove to be as easy as I thought since the crowds had only shifted in front of IC spawning more green blobs of the virus. This left me with no choice but to trade in my food tokens for a biohazard mask and wade through the dancing crowds. I had been cheated, the mask got weaker the longer I stayed exposed to the virus, cutting off my oxygen supply bit by bit as I struggled to escape the crowds. I almost made it to the edge before my mask cracked and the virus surged inwards.
I had no option, I needed to complete the level before the virus consumed my remaining lives. I got to hogging on a roll and a brownie so I finished the two eating tasks by the stalls. I rushed back in front of AB3 to play a game. The damn virus, it’s made my stamina stats lower than before letting me only sprint so far before I have to jog. I’m tempted to take part in the robot battles but I can’t afford to waste time, so I choose bottle flipping instead.
Piece of cake. That was till I realised the virus had an added debuff of slowing my jog to a walk while my lives ran down. To add to my miseries, I hadn’t made it to Student Plaza before I saw the huge crowds there, and crowds only meant one thing. Corona. I was well and truly a dead man walking. That is till it hit me, I could get rid of my walking debuff by picking up a lime from campus store.
I was finally back to running towards FC1 to log out before my life ran out. The added buffs from the lime had held up better than the scam of a mask I had traded my food tokens for. However, I had failed to anticipate that the virus from the crowds would only amplify the effects of the virus already in my system. Slowing me back to a crawl as I struggled up the stairs of FC1 towards the red logout button. My feet starting to disintegrate as I reach with my fingertips, feeling the shiny cool surface of the button.
I press it, again and again. Nothing happens. The panic sets in, why isn’t it working? There was no other way out. Till my eyes pan to the others logging out, they connect their wire to the terminal and then hit the button. I had forgotten about the terminal wire. The disintegration having reached my waist, it was now or never. Finally, with the wire plugged in, I hit the button one last time as the world disappears around me.
I pull my VR headset off as I wake up panting in bed with my laptop in front of me. The TT logo spinning on the screen ahead that read, “We hope you enjoyed the simulation!” Oh, I wish. Maybe next time.
Written by Gautam Marathe and Kaavya Azad for MTTN
Edited by Harshaj Sood for MTTN
Featured Image by Suhash Pokuri for MTTN