As companies like Discord have sprung up to become the backbone of communities self-isolating for the greater public good, efforts to increase social distancing policies are being undercut by a small undercurrent of scepticism towards the global health crisis. But where misinformation and misunderstanding leads people astray, a group of gamers are hoping to cut through the confusion to help people keep themselves and their families safe.
Hidden behind the simple message of "Stay Home, Play Games" – which, let's be frank, all of us can get behind – there are many of the usual pieces of advice to avoid contact and wash hands. However GamersVsCOVID19 also asks gamers to commit to a pledge, which also tasks them with improving the collective mental wellbeing of the community. These efforts include: "bringing a positive attitude into [their] online matchmaking" and "providing emotional support to everybody [they] meet, and ask for support when [they] feel overwhelmed".
Alongside individual gamers, a number of esports organizations and gaming companies have committed to a separate business pledge, including Rogue and CompLexity Gaming. In this pledge they promise to support employees by letting them work from home or providing at least six feet of personal space if impossible to work remotely. And in the worst case scenario if an employee contracts COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, they are assured paid time off to recover.
Right now, the best way to #GoRogue is to put your hood up, wash your hands, and stay home.— Rogue (@Rogue) March 19, 2020
Read more about how you can help support #gamersvsCOVID19, and take the pledge yourself here https://t.co/Pdxlwjv9lK pic.twitter.com/opGYLfms78
As well as making sure gamers, and the companies that cater to them, are acting ethically amid a global pandemic, the pledge also serves as an awareness campaign designed to combat some of the most dangerous responses we've seen to the crisis.
One of the founding members of the GamersVsCOVID19 movement, esports lawyer Bryce Blum, explained to us that a number of other leaders in the industry noticed the huge uptick in sceptical responses to the pandemic, which spurred them to action.
"We all saw a huge need given the prevalence of misinformation and the clear value in immediate action," Bryce told us. While esports law and team management may not be the usual bedfellows of epidemiologists, he assured us all the advice and best practices in the pledge and the site's FAQ page are sourced from the experts who are at the forefront of this battle.
"We're not experts and we don't purport to be," Bryce said. "We view ourselves as more of the conduit for the information than the source. Everything in the pledge comes from the recommendations of the WHO and CDC. We also had the specific content on the site vetted by a team of medical professionals, just to be safe."
If you'd like to know more about those recommendations, please check out the FAQ and resources available at the GamersVsCOVID19 site, and if you can agree to help flatten the curve then sign the pledge to stay home and play games