While Online Gaming Booms, Coronavirus Releases are Educating Players

By Bryan Grogan, February 20, 2020

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With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China forcing people to stay indoors, online films, concerts and video games are keeping people entertained during the crisis. Notably, a report outlining the impact of the outbreak of video gaming industries by Asian gaming trend website Niko Partners found that the coronavirus has had a positive impact on mobile, PC and console gaming, but has made things difficult for internet cafes and esports tournaments, as well as the approval schedule for new games. 

Tencent Esports announced that its Honor of Kings tournament would not be played in a studio, but rather online in order to avoid the large congregations. Meanwhile, the Overwatch league canceled events in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou set for February and March, moving them to Seoul, South Korea instead. 

In more positive news, 13 of the top 20 games for January on Steam were made by Asian developers. Of those, two are China-made games: Sands of Salzaar, made by Han-Squirrel Studio, and Paranormal HK, made by Ghostpie Studio. 

Newly released games are taking on themes of the coronavirus, as a means to educating players. Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst for Niko Partners, tweeted out a foursome of games that are based around themes of the fighting viral monsters and maintaining hygiene, playable through a variety of platforms:

  1. Battle of Pathogens – players are tasked with slicing and destroying falling pathogens

  2. Eradicate the Bacteria – a puzzle game with 40 levels, with gamers tasked with solving each scenario to move on

  3. People's War: Mobilize Against the Epidemic – a quiz-like game where players are asked questions and need to give the correct answer

  4. Retrograde – an interactive game telling stories of people living in Wuhan during the outbreak. The game was created in just 15 days

Screengrab via @ZhugeEX/Twitter

Similarly, while films like Contagion have been trending on online streaming sites like Youku, pandemic-based games like Plague Inc. have become popular with gamers in the US and China. The creators of that game, Ndemic Creation released a statement about the game's current popularity, saying: "The Coronavirus outbreak in China is deeply concerning and we’ve received a lot of questions from players and the media... However, please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people. We would always recommend that players get their information directly from local and global health authorities."

Themes surrounding the coronavirus are inspiring gamers in other areas. According to a report by Abacus, Minecraft players are recreating the swiftly-built Wuhan hospitals Huoshenshan and Leishenshan online. A video of the process was released by a group called Ancient Stone (上古之石) and is available over on Bilibili.

READ MORE: 5 Chinese Online Games to Get Hyped for in 2020

[Cover image via Bilibili]

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