An attendee plays a video game on the PlayStation 4 video game console in the Sony Interactive Entertainment booth during the Tokyo Game Show 2018 on September 20, 2018 in Chiba, Japan
An attendee plays a video game on the PlayStation 4 video game console in the Sony Interactive Entertainment booth during the Tokyo Game Show 2018 on September 20, 2018 in Chiba, Japan

Coronavirus: World Health Organisation tells people to stay at home and play games

Advice comes after WHO added 'gaming disorder' to its list of diseases

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Tuesday 31 March 2020 15:25
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The World Health Organisation has urged the world to stay at home and play video games.

The UN agency, which is helping lead the fight against coronavirus across the world, joined up with developers to urge people to stay indoors and play together online, rather than in real life.

The move is part of an attempt to encourage people not to spread the virus and help limit the impact of covid-19.

It comes after the WHO named "gaming disorder" as a specific disease, in a decision that caused some upset to some gamers. It warned then that while the disorder only affects a small number of gamers, everyone "should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities", especially if it was happening to the exclusion of other activities.

Now Raymond Chambers, the WHO's ambassador for global strategy, said that games could be an important way for people to follow public health guidelines. He also thanked the gaming industry for their part in the new project.

"The games sector will launch #PlayApartTogether, an initiative to inform and encourage their vast network of users to follow the WHO's important health guidelines-including physical distancing, hand hygiene and other powerful preventive actions to slow the spread of COVID-19," he said. "Through this unifying hashtag, companies will encourage conversation within their games and on social media."

The initiative has been supported by companies from across the gaming industry, which together represent many of the world's biggest games.

“It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another," said Activision's chief executive, Bobby Kotick. "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.”

The companies have committed to integrate the messaging into their games, as well as to run special events online. Those will be collected under the #PlayApartTogether hashtag, the WHO said.

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