Although the global health emergency status of COVID-19 was declared over in early May, it does not mean that the virus has vanished. People worldwide are still grappling with its impact. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of every ten COVID-19 cases leads to long-term health complications. Currently, millions of individuals are living with Long COVID, and this number continues to rise. As diagnostic and treatment options remain inadequate, many of these individuals may experience health limitations for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, this debilitating condition is not well-known, and people often struggle to empathize with the challenges faced by Long COVID patients. To increase awareness, particularly among younger audiences, Saint Elmo’s and the Long COVID Europe patient network have launched an awareness campaign utilizing the world’s most popular single-player video games.
Real Long COVID symptoms integrated into game effects
By using game modifications, commonly known as mods, the Long COVID Mode introduces debilitating effects on game characters that mirror real Long COVID symptoms. These effects include exhaustion, reduced concentration, dizziness, blackouts, shortness of breath, and more. This adds a new level of difficulty to the gameplay, which gamers always seek, while also shedding light on the experience of living with this multisystem disorder.
The launch of this campaign coincides with International ME/CFS Day on May 12 and precedes the European Public Health Week. This timing aims to emphasize that Long COVID is a serious condition and that ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is part of its clinical presentation. It is estimated that up to half of individuals with Long COVID also develop ME/CFS. Consequently, the number of ME/CFS patients is expected to increase significantly in the coming years due to Long COVID infections.
To generate attention for the introduction of the Long COVID Mode in popular games like Elden Ring, Minecraft, and The Witcher 3, Saint Elmo’s and Long COVID Europe collaborated with prominent gamers who demonstrated the new difficulty level live to their followers on the release day. PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, and over 30 other international media outlets reported on this initiative.
Saint Elmo’s is responsible for the idea and concept behind the gaming campaign for Long COVID awareness. The agency has also developed the Long COVID Mode for Minecraft and, in partnership with Garden of Eyes and Stellar7Project developers, the game modifications for Elden Ring and The Witcher 3, respectively. These game modes are available for download by players online on nexusmods.com and legacy.curseforge.com.
The campaign also involves social media activities and a landing page where donations can be made to support the Long COVID Europe patient network. Saint Elmo’s is responsible for implementing the landing page and providing social media support.
Client: Long COVID Europe
Agency: Saint Elmo’s
CCO: Matthias Harbeck
Copywriters: Rasesh Patkar, Swarna Thomas
Art Director: Silvia Raquel Vega Bellido
Creative intern: Tuleen Zaid Maher Kirresh
Head of XR development: Leopold Ferdinand Lotz
Game modders: Garden of Eyes, Stellar7Project
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