If there’s one buzzword spreading across the world, it’s social distancing due to coronavirus. So how do we bring awareness in an innovative way? How to make kids understand the gravity of the situation if not through games? In lieu of this, several games – online or board – have been developed on the virus to educate and entertain.
Dr Anita Gautam, psychologist says, “Playing games during such uncertain time encourage positive social behavior which can influence people’s actions in the real world. It’s a fun way of getting quite a scary message across.”
Battle the virus – online!
Buying your groceries was never so fun before. SurviveCovid-19, an online educational game helps people understand the importance of masks, sanitizers and social distancing to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 when they walk around the theme of a city. Sridhar Chimalakonda, assistant professor at IIT Tirupati who developed the game along with his students Dheeraj Vagavolu and Akhila Sri Manasa says, “In the game, players have to navigate the city while regularly using masks and sanitizers. They will have to practice social distancing because the life of the player keeps reducing once they come in contact with COVID-19 infected persons until he/she visits a nearby hospital.” The game, which has been played more than 3000 times is developed on survivor style theme.
Nikhil Kumar, a salesforce admin intern has also developed an arcade game related to COVID 19. He says, “I didn’t want children to get bored and itch to step out of their houses. That’s why I developed this game where people have to jump over the virus icon or else they die. I wanted it to be a ground where everyone can connect and even for few minutes forget about the pandemic. If you have fun with these things, the learning curve is much faster.”
Fight it on paper… or board
As the number of coronavirus cases began increasing in India, Phalgun Polepalli, founder of DICE Toy Labs, decided to raise awareness through board games that are free and easily accessible. He says, “We use a print and play model so all a user needs is a dice, tokens and a printout of the design to follow the instructions. The story of the game is set in a virus-infected workplace where players, who are colleagues, have to save themselves by taking the right precautions and escape infection.” Every player has their own format and layout of the office which they draw themselves. Available for download on their Facebook page, the game has found thousands of players. “How people interpreted it was fun. Some people managed to get the entire office infected while some managed to escape and some lost their colleagues to it. It was a very effective way to spread information.”
Like many kids, 9-year-old student from Delhi, Veer Kashyap too was affected by the boredom of lockdown. Unable to hold it any longer, he developed a board game of his own named Corona Yoga, which is now out for production. The artwork of the board resembles coronavirus and has tracks where you move the players around by rolling a dice. He says, “The game is based on the present lockdown situation prevailing across the globe. To enter the game you must get 2 on your dice to land on ‘buy mask’ block. You then take a train and go around shopping but with safety measures and if you sneeze three times, you are out of the game.” Further, there are several blocks named ‘Do yoga’ wherein players will have to perform any yoga posture. And if a player lands on the ‘clapping area’, then all players will have to clap together in order to appreciate the COVID-19 warriors.
And many popular games have introduced new features based on corona guidelines. As per reports, the Minecraft Earth team claims to have developed new features in accordance with World Health Organization and Centre for Disease Control guidelines. There are new features like Bone Spiders skeletons, Iron Furnace Golem, etc focused on social distancing and staying at home. Developers of Pokemon Go, the popular reality mobile game which requires players to venture outside have added a Remote Raid Pass, along with other features, which will allow players to go on raids without leaving their homes.