Image: Covid-19/ Man playing game/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

How gamers are squading up against Covid-19

As enforced isolations and lockdowns sweep the globe to slow the spread of Covid-19, it is easier than ever to feel scared and alone. The news is filled with anxiety-provoking stories of people facing innumerable struggles; for many, each day brings new challenges and the fear that any of us might soon face harsh realities. But, in spite of these hardships, small glimmers constantly remind us of the human heart’s capacity to show compassion. Acts of kindness and consideration from individuals, groups and businesses are making some of the world’s nightmares a little more bearable. Entertainment has often fulfilled the role of distracting us from the horrors of the real world, and now more than ever these industries are stepping in to lend a hand. Let us, for a few moments, focus on some of the amazing ways gaming is easing the pain for everyone right now.

To encourage people to stay inside, there are a plethora of titles going free or on sale to keep us glued to our screens. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey saw a free weekend, have highlighted some of their store’s best free games and even Pokémon Go has been selling in-game items for significantly less to keep trainers stocked up and able to play from their homes. These are just some of the ways that businesses are helping, and players are also encouraging others to jump in on games they already own. Through social media and group chats, national and global tournaments in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fifa 20 and other popular franchises are not only keeping people safe indoors but bringing friends and communities together to compete and enjoy company whilst at a distance.

Though it is not just all about fun and games (excuse the pun). If lecture disruptions seem bad for us, classroom closures due to Covid-19 are perhaps worse for younger learners. School classes are not as easily recorded and put up online, stunting the development of children when key skills need to be nurtured. To combat this, and to support parents who may already be struggling to work from home, video game companies are stepping in to help in small ways. Microsoft and Mojang are releasing a free Minecraft Education pack to teach kids topics from Greek history to marine biology. For older learners, Unity is providing free lessons and access to Unity Learn Premium so people stuck at home can practice coding and creating with the platform. 

Popular franchises are not only keeping people safe indoors but bringing friends ancommunities together

Some companies are also going beyond helping people at home. Nintendo have donated thousands of facemasks to protect local first responders to their US headquarters. The masks were initially bought by the business to protect their workers in an emergency but now the N95 masks, which filter out most air particles including viruses, can now help people in the frontlines facing this outbreak.

In a different way, Nintendo’s most recent game release has also had an unprecedented impact during the Covid-19 crisis.  Animal Crossing: New Horizons is providing a record number of players the opportunity to explore a digital outdoors, hunting bugs, building towns and visiting friends. We might not be able to meet up in real life, but one Dodo Airlines trip later and friends all over the world can explore their collective island paradises, generating meaningful digital social interaction.

I know I promised a more lighthearted approach to this pandemic, but whilst all these things I have mentioned are amazing the world is not suddenly fixed because of them. Not every lender is as fair as Tom Nook and not every job is as secure as Professor Willow’s. If you feel compelled to help in your own way during this pandemic, there are so many options to do so. I have included a few links to various charities, but if you are not able to donate right now, there are still many possibilities. Just text one person and ask how they are doing, maybe call a relative you have not seen in a while or sit down and play a game with your family.  Every small act of reaching out can do a phenomenal lot of good. Stay safe, keep well, be awesome.

Age UK helps the elderly in so many ways. As one of the most at-risk groups with Covid-19, now more than ever Age UK’s services are vital in supporting this part of the community.

Mind is a mental health charity who help people struggling with all sorts. Right now they are not only performing their usual service, but trying to assist everyone mentally affected by isolation and Covid-19.

The Trussell Trust runs over 1000 food banks across the UK and are trying extra hard to ensure that people that need food do not go hungry even in these times of shop shortages. 

Action Homeless are helping the people that do not have a home to stay at and isolate. They are continuing many of their services in order to help people forced to live on the streets.

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