Gaming companies are inserting WHO coronavirus guidance into games in an effort to encourage players to stay home
- 18 companies in the video game space including Activision Blizzard and streaming platform Twitch are partnering through the #PlayApartTogether campaign to disseminate WHO guidances on how to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Companies will bring special events, rewards, activities, and exclusives to games, encouraging players to adopt best public health practices in order to slow the spread of the virus.
- Many of the companies involved develop mobile games, and major video game companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Ubisoft are notably absent.
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A number of companies in the video game space including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, and streaming platform Twitch, have come together for a campaign that incorporates WHO messaging about coronavirus into games and platforms. Titled #PlayApartTogether, the campaign brings together 18 players in the gaming and interactive entertainment space, ranging from mobile and online game companies like Zynga, which created "Words With Friends," to industry giants like Activision Blizzard, which created competitive first-person shooter "Overwatch."
The campaign will incentivize players to tune into games with special events, exclusives, activities, and rewards; companies and platforms are in turn incorporating COVID-19 self-protection messages direct from the WHO into games itself. The campaign's slogan, #PlayApartTogether, nods towards video games' capacity to bring people together amid the pandemic. "It's never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another. Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning. We are proud to participate in such a worthwhile and necessary initiative," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a press release.
Notably absent are a number of major games companies like Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and EA, who produce predominately AAA games titles like "Assassin's Creed: Odyssey" (Ubisoft) or the more recent "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" (Nintendo). With the exception of Activision Blizzard and Riot Games, which created popular online game "League of Legends," the majority of the games companies on the list skew towards mobile and online game development. Given the accessibility of mobile games (which only require a smartphone, as opposed to a console) and the growth of the mobile game industry, which, per TechCrunch, was estimated to be worth $68.5 billion in 2019, mobile games are perhaps uniquely suited to disseminate information to a wide audience.
WHO has historically taken a critical stance of gaming and classified "gaming disorder" as an addictive behavior disorder in 2018, and it doesn't appear that the group is an official partner in the campaign.
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