Video games to host Stay At Home, Save Lives message | World news


The popularity of gaming is the latest tool being used to spread the government’s public health message and keep people indoors to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Players who are tackling some of the world’s favourite games – including Candy Crush Saga, Sniper Elite 4, DiRT Rally 2.0 and Farm Heroes Saga – will see the government’s message “Stay At Home, Save Lives” appear on their screens.

It is part of a joint effort by the government and some of the UK’s leading games companies to try and help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The government sees it as a “creative, targeted, and immediate” tool to try and reinforce its stay at home message to a generation of young people who are likely to spend more time playing video games than the rest of the population.

Approximately 37 million people in the UK play games, and there are around 2,277 active video game companies in the UK, according to the Culture Department.

Activision Blizzard, the leading interactive entertainment company, is inserting the “Stay At Home” message in its network of mobile games, including Candy Crush Saga.

The firm has also donated more than 230 “digital poster” advertising spaces in London, where it would normally promote its own products, for the public health messages.

Humam Sakhnini, president of King Digital Entertainment, said that allowing the messages to appear on Activision Blizzard is “a small part” in helping to deliver “vital” information.

He added: “Through our millions of players we’re able to assist Public Health England and the NHS spread their life saving message: stay at home, protect our NHS, and save lives.”

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Stay At Home posters are already featuring in Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0, which has been played by millions of people since its February 2019 launch.

Codemasters, which is a video game developer and publisher, is also looking at ways to roll out more health messages in its games across Europe and the US in the coming weeks.

The Stay At Home message will also appear when players load up games produced by the firm Rebellion.

These messages may also link to relevant official government pages. Rebellion multimedia studios has also offered to advertise these messages in the comic books that it publishes.

Rebellion co-founder Jason Kingsley said: “We know how fundamentally beneficial video games, like Sniper Elite and Strange Brigade, and comics, like 2000 AD, have been and will continue to be for many of us during this extraordinary time.

“It makes total sense for us to help promote important public health messaging while keeping those fans entertained in the safety of their homes.”

Toby Evan-Jones, the vice president of business development at Codemasters, said: “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.”

He added: “It’s fantastic to see conversations already being sparked amongst our community.”

The government is inviting any company to contact them – at enquiriesculture.gov.uk – if they want to use in-game messaging in their products as part of the battle against coronavirus.



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