Awareness creation about the dangers of Covid-19, and the importance of adopting safety measures, is crucial to curbing the spread
During the lockdown, with the emphasis on social distancing, gaming, earlier often viewed as ‘anti-social’, has become a way for people to socialise.
It has also been helping people cope with anxiety and depression.
Online games, board games and apps not only help people have fun, but also create awareness. Game developers have launched multiple games based on the coronavirus, as a way of educating while entertaining. You can kill the virus, learn to practise social distancing and pick up other information and recommended behaviour.
Since the pandemic began, free-to-play games and apps such as Corona Warriors, SurviveCovid-19, Bhag Corona, Corona Yuga and Wrath of the Virus have become popular. Online educational games SurviveCovid-19, that help people understand the importance of masks, sanitizers and social distancing, has recorded a high number of players in just one month.
To communicate the severity and trajectory of the disease, IIT Tirupati researchers Akhila Sri Manasa Venigalla and Dheeraj Vagavolu, along with their professor Sridhar Chimalakonda, have designed a mobile game in which a player has to survive by performing predefined tasks and rules, which in this case are safety measures against Covid-19.
“Controlling this pandemic mainly depends on the measures followed by the public, such as social distancing, use of masks and sanitisers and so on. This awareness is even more important in the unlock scenario across the world,” says Akhila.
“This game provides a visualisation of the virus and its spread, and the player being affected or not affected depends on the use of safety equipment. This factor is not present in any of the existing games related to healthcare. It thus provides interesting scenarios that motivate players to follow safety measures,” says Sridhar Chimalakonda, Assistant Professor, Research in Intelligent Software and Human Analytics (RISHA) Lab, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, IIT Tirupati.
Board, not bored
Game creators are coming up with board games to educate people on social distancing like Catch Me If You Can and Corona Yuga. Ten-year-old Veer Kashyap from Visakhapatnam is the creator of Corona Yuga. The artwork of the board resembles a Coronavirus and it has tracks on which players move at the roll of a dice.
“The board is based on the lockdown situation prevailing across the globe due to COVID-19. The whole idea of designing this game is to educate people on the pandemic and get them to spend time together at home during the lockdown,” says Veer.
The game creates awareness on the importance of washing hands, using sanitizers, quarantining and maintaining social distancing. It requires players to pay the penalty of remaining in a sealed area or hospital if they ‘test positive’ for the Coronavirus.
“There are several blocks marked ‘Do Yoga’, and every player who lands on these blocks have to assume a Yoga pose. This is basically to promote yoga amongst the players and take a healthy break.
And if a player lands on a ‘Clapping Area’, everyone will have to clap in appreciation of COVID-19 warriors,” adds Veer.
Veer’s work caught the attention of an IT firm Teck Team Solutions, Visakhapatnam and they worked together to make the board game a reality. Veer’s parents have taken a copyright and trademark so that Veer can retain the IP rights for the design, rules and the name of the game.
Corona Warriors to help frontline workers
Corona Warriors is a gaming application designed by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) of Uttarakhand.
Unlike currently available apps like Arogya Setu, which is being widely promoted by the Centre, Corona Warriors is meant to help frontline workers, police, anganwadi workers, sanitation personnel, drivers of essential services and the general public gain knowledge about the virus and curb its spread.
“It is just like any other game and the interface is simple. The app, which is attractive and engaging, was developed with focus on youngsters and ground level functionaries who may not know the Standard Operating Procedures,” says Tripti Bhatt, Commandant, SDRF, adding,
“Everyone thinks they know a lot (about the pandemic) but in day-to-day duties, people can make mistakes. Therefore, the idea was to ensure that people from all walks of life do not commit errors while dealing with the pandemic.”
She says that the app has now become an essential tool for frontline warriors like doctors, nurses, medical staff besides common people and all government employees. “This approach (of a gaming app) reaped results, and since it is in Hindi, people were easily able to connect with it,” she explains.