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Avid gamers to receive Covid-19 ‘stay at home’ alerts while playing

Image credit: Tyler Oneill | Dreamstime

Gamers will be targeted with adverts reminding them to stay indoors during the coronavirus outbreak.

The “Stay Home, Save Lives” message will be woven into Candy Crush Saga, DiRT Rally and Farm Heroes Saga to remind players of the importance of staying in. It is part of a joint effort by the Government and some of the UK’s leading games companies to try and halt the spread of Covid-19.

The Government sees this strategy 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.

According to the Culture Department, approximately 37 million people in the UK play games. Meanwhile, there are around 2,277 active video game companies in the UK.

How coronavirus 'stay home' message will appear in Codemasters DiRT Rally 2.0

How coronavirus ‘stay home’ message will appear in Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0

Image credit: PA/Codemasters

Interactive entertainment company Activision Blizzard has said it 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. “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,” he said.

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

“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,” said Toby Evan-Jones, the vice president of business development at Codemasters. “It’s fantastic to see conversations already being sparked amongst our community.”

How gamers will see coronavirus safety messages in Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0

How gamers will see coronavirus safety messages in Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0

Image credit: Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0/PA

The Stay At Home message and links to relevant official Government pages will also appear when players load up games produced by the firm Rebellion. Furthermore, Rebellion’s multimedia studios have also offered to advertise these messages in the comic books that it publishes.

The company’s 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.”

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

“It is absolutely vital that we all follow the simple Government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” said culture secretary, Oliver Dowden. “I’m delighted to see the UK’s brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the UK.”

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