Long Covid Europe is tapping into the fanbase of popular games The Witcher 3, Elden Ring and Minecraft to increase the conversation around long Covid. With the long-term effects of the condition still not fully known inside the health sector, or widely discussed outside it, Long Covid Mode aims to use gaming as a medium of education. Acrosss modifications of three video games, audiences are invited to experience some of the symptoms of the condition through their player characters.
Saint Elmo’s, the creative agency behind the project, worked with Garden of Eyes and Stellar7Project to create the mods with guidance from Long Covid Europe – a network of long Covid patient associations. Features include reduced speed, slow stamina regeneration, reduced focus and loss of vision. Characters are also forced to take breaks frequently, halting gameplay, due to fatigue and shortness of breath. The mods also simulate some lesser-known symptoms, including cognitive dysfunction (brain fog) to give players “a glimpse” into the difficulty that those with long Covid experience everyday.
In the hope to reach audiences of all ages, Saint Elmo’s has chosen three games with a PG rating.
Long Covid Europe says the use of accessible mediums to talk about health conditions with invisible symptoms is vital. “We and our member organisations have been doing our best to spread our message,” the network shared in a Q&A on Twitter. “Unfortunately, most of this goes unnoticed by people beyond the health sector. Exploring ways to get our message out through different streams felt essential.” It adds: “We feel a 15-second gameplay, rather than a 15-pager medical report, helps us explain our condition much better to those who have not suffered from it and would otherwise never read up on it.”
“The challenges presented by long Covid and other invisible post-acute infection syndromes like ME/CFS forced us to find novel means to show people without this experience what it really feels like to live with such a debilitating condition,” says Ann Li, co-chair at Long Covid Europe.
Readers can download the mods and read more about the campaign at the Long Covid Europe site.
Saint Elmo’s / Long Covid Europe: Long Covid Mode, mods by Garden of Eyes, Stellar7Project and Saint Elmo’s (Copyright © Saint Elmo’s, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.