COVID-19: WHO encourages gaming during coronavirus pandemic to stay safe

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Published: March 31, 2020 5:06:25 pm

The irony in this is that WHO and organisation that has pushed its agenda about video games affecting people and causing “gaming disorders,” is now promoting people to play them regularly. (Image: Bloomberg)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with representatives from the gaming industry to launch a new campaign, called #PlayApartTogether. With this, the organisation is encouraging people to follow social distancing and thus help in avoiding the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The motto of the #PlayApartTogether campaign is for people to stay at home and play video games online. Many major representatives from large game studios, including CEO of Activision Blizzard and CEO of Riot Games, also have joined WHO to make this initiative a success.

“It has 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,” Bobby Kotick CEO of Activision Blizzard said in a press statement.

“Physical distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation! Let’s stay physically apart — and take other public health steps such as hand hygiene — to help flatten the curve and #PlayApartTogether to help power through this crisis. For Rioters, playing games is more than just a game; it’s a meaningful life pursuit. And now, for the billions of players around the world, playing games could help the pursuit of saving lives. Let’s beat this COVID-19 boss battle together,” Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games said.

Also Read: Games you can play virtually with friends during the 21-day lockdown

What has WHO said about gaming disorders in the past?

But WHO’s new ‘pro’ gaming stance is definitely raising some eyebrows. In the past WHO has talked about how video games can lead to a mental health problem. The website for WHO even lists “gaming disorders,” under the international classification of diseases.

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The definition of gaming disorders on WHO website is described as follows: “a pattern of gaming behaviour (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterised 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.”

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According to WHO, a gaming disorder is diagnosed when “behavioural pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”  WHO’s health journal report last year, it stated that doctors are worried about various aspects of gaming causing negative effects on people’s mental health, which could lead to serious gaming addiction.

So why the change?

These are extraordinary times and gaming could help keep a lot of people indoors, especially the younger population, and this is exactly what WHO and governments across the world want in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaming, especially multi-player online games, can help people connect with their friends, and also relax and take a break from the real world worries caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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