The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is all cool to play video games during this time of social distancing and lockdown because of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Great news then! Time to dust off those Xbox and PlayStation consoles and start gaming. But hang on a moment. This is the same WHO which had in the not too recent past been not entirely nice about video games and also labeled it a disorder. Now, when the gaming industry is coming together with the #PlayApartTogether campaign to promote video games and multi-player gaming to overcome the side-effects of social distancing, the WHO has jumped into the ring with its complete support for the gaming initiative.
Streaming platforms Twitch and YouTube Gaming as well as Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, Unity, Kabam, Snap Games, Amazon Appstore, Maysalward. Twitch, Big Fish Games, Playtika, Snap, Dirtybit, Pocket Gems, Wooga, Glu Mobile, Jam City, SciPlay, and Zynga have come together for the #PlayApartTogether campaign which wants to use gaming to bring people together in times when they are forced to be physically at a distance. “We’re at a crucial moment in defining outcomes of this pandemic. Games industry companies have a global audience – we encourage all to #PlayApartTogether. More physical distancing + other measures will help to flatten the curve + save lives,” Ray Chambers, Ambassador for Global Strategy at WHO posted in a tweet. This was then retweeted by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the WHO, “Thank you @RaymondChambers for mobilizing the gaming industry to feature @WHO advice on #COVID19 to their users. We all must #PlayApartTogether to beat the #coronavirus.”
Incidentally, this is the same WHO which had in 2019 classified gaming as a disorder and added it to their list of diseases. (You can read more here). In the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) of the World Health Organization (WHO), gaming disorder has been defined as ‘pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.’ Quite ironic.
What the gaming industry is doing with the #PlayApartTogether campaign is that they will use their platforms to spread the word about WHO’s guidelines about protecting yourself from the Coronavirus, or COVID infection and what you can do to reduce its spread. ““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,” says Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “It’s so important that young people take staying at home seriously — they have a key role to play in helping stop the spread. Snap Games has always been a way for Snapchatters to connect and play with their friends even when far apart, so we’re game to support the #PlayApartTogether initiative. We’re committed to helping Snapchatters stay home by offering new games to play and creative tools that raise awareness for our community to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the greater public,” says Will Wu, Head of Snap Games at Snap. “For 15 years, YouTube has been a community where people do things alone but together through #withme videos — but it’s more important now than ever to #StayHome and #PlayApartTogether. Some of the most impactful moments on YouTube have been creators virtually engaging with fans and other gaming creators halfway around the world via livestreams. Gamers know how to come together, even when we’re apart, so let’s be safe during this time and do our part as an industry to flatten the curve,” adds Ryan Wyatt, Global Head of Gaming at YouTube.