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Games in the Time of Corona

Why Videogames could play an important role in keeping society sane during the next weeks of crisis, and how we as developers can prepare for it.

 

Picture form the Decamerone

“To have compassion for those who suffer is a human quality which everyone should possess, especially those who have required comfort themselves in the past and have managed to find it in others. ”
• Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

During the outbreak of the Plague in the 14th century near the Italian city Florence, which you may have heard of if you were following the Assassins Creed Saga, 10 young people are gathering to tell each other stories. On the surface this could seem a vain escapism, just to pass the time until the plague passes, but on a psychological level it helps these people to cope with the uncertainty of a looming death, without any scientific tools to understand its cause, its spread and if it might be the end of days, like many religious people might have reason to believe in at that time.

I’m not here to tell you that corona poses a similar individual threat on the scale of the actual mortality rate of  the black death, which is believed to have eradicated 25-50% of the European population. It is indeed highly likely that most of us who will become infected during this season, will only have mild symptoms. The younger and healthier you are the more likely you will be fine.

As an Individual it is rational to not panic, but as a Society a little panic is absolutely healthy.

( See this interesting talk about the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2Kga5HeAqk

And this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvWjqXBEFJY)

Corona is a systemic threat in so far, that it could easily manage to bring down first our health systems and then other parts of our societies.

I’m from Germany and the situation here is bad, it is so bad that our government practically admits that our only realistic goal is at the moment not to get better, but to slow down the rate of getting worse. Our neighbors in Italy which are about 2 weeks more into the crisis are in desperate need of help. China -as the country with the most experience in fighting the virus is sending medical troops to help with the problem and France, Germany and Britain will likely need assistance in the coming weeks, too. The United States will get there a little later, but trust me, when I say, the virus does not care which flag you salute to, which book you trust in or which god you pray to.

As a fellow Developer, wherever you work in the world, I urge you to be prepared. That does not mean to panic buy. Far more likely than our food chains to break down is our professional work.

In Germany the escalation steps within only one week went from:

 

1.Forbidding gatherings with more than 1000 people

2.Closing schools and children daycares nationwide at least 4 weeks

3.Closing borders nationwide until further notice

4.Closing all entertainment and not life essential shops. (Starting this Wednesday)

5.Starting to shut down airports, travel etc.

 

The next step can be seen in Italy & Spain: Nationwide Quarantines, at least in the metropolitan areas. We expect it to arrive here early next week.

If you have a development studio, use this time to migrate all staff to home offices.

When the Quarantine hits eventually, it will be essential to homeschool your kids for at least 4 weeks. If you have to pay bills and want to keep the lights on, especially if you have a live service game, be prepared to execute most of your daily routines from home.

Video games as one of the only entertainment areas, that don’t need close quarter social interaction could provide a very much needed recreational effect during this time of crisis.

I wish us all the best.

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