The UK government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today announced that it has been working with various video game companies to deliver special health messages to players during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The idea is that these will be targeted to folks playing in the UK, and will feature "Stay At Home, Save Lives" messaging to further emphasize social distancing efforts and the like. Basically, if you're playing games like Candy Crush Saga or Sniper Elite 4 in the UK, these should start to crop up in the near future.
"It is absolutely vital that we all follow the simple government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives," UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said as part of the announcement. "I'm delighted to see the UK’s brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the UK."
More specifically, according to the UK government's announcement today, UK developers Activision Blizzard King, Codemasters, and Rebellion will all be adding some versions of the "Stay At Home, Save Lives" messaging to their games. For King, that includes the still-popular Candy Crush Saga, while Codemasters' Dirt Rally 2.0 includes "Stay At Home" posters, and Rebellion's various landing pages for games will include some sort of messaging.
"At Codemasters we came to realise that technology within our games, which enables the remote updating of banners within the virtual environment, could be repurposed to assist with the Coronavirus communication effort," Toby Evan-Jones, VP Business Development at Codemasters, is quoted as saying. "This week, through collaboration with Bidstack Group PLC (providers of the ad-replacement infrastructure), we began delivering a version of Public Health England’s ‘Stay Home Save Lives’ message into DiRT Rally 2.0. It’s fantastic to see conversations already being sparked amongst our community."
What do you think of the new initiative? Have you come across any sort of COVID-19 messaging in video games yet? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!
There is no definitive timeline on the implementation of all this, with some games seemingly moving forward immediately and others planning to do so in the coming weeks. Additionally, given that these message will specifically be using geotargeting technology to deliver messages in the UK, there's a good chance the vast majority of players don't end up seeing them at all. You can check out all of our previous coverage of video games right here.
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