WellPlay’s Virus Hunters: Entertainment for Pandemic Prevention
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Problem: As COVID-19 spreads fear world-wide, the panic stricken public is increasingly wary of information and mis-information from health authorities and others. Few people are consistently washing their hands, the only recommended safeguard against viral spread.
Solution: Virus Hunters is our first mobile game that uses augmented reality (AR) and character driven narrative to deliver reliable, entertaining health information and modify behavior. Players are on a hero’s quest to defeat disease, searching their surroundings in augmented reality for Coronavirus and other dangerous contagions, while learning how to defeat the virus through game play.
WellPlay is the first entertainment company that empowers audiences with pandemic prevention action steps.
Using our signature Fan Feedback Loop, character driven narrative and augmented reality gaming, we are able to increase health engagement, empower individuals with health literacy and be apart of the COVID-19 solution.
In today’s entertainment-driven society, can games and other web based media be a better pandemic prevention tool than traditional health information campaigns?
Let’s look at the data:
Ndemic Creations, creators of the video game Plague Inc have issued a statement directing players to seek Corona virus information from health authorities, rather than the game itself. Plague Inc’s 130Million+ players managed to crash the website recently as concerns about the Corona Virus Epidemic continued to grow.
““[W]henever there is an outbreak of disease we see an increase in players, as people seek to find out more about how diseases spread and to understand the complexities of viral outbreaks” wrote Ndemic Creations.
Plague Inc has been praised by the CDC and other health organizations for its ability to raise awareness of infectious disease, while remaining realistic and informative.
The 2011 pandemic thriller, Contagion, by Steven Soderbergh has surged to the top of google searches, Twitter mentions and iTunes downloads recently. Many cite the uncanny similarities between the current Corona Virus and the film’s fictional “MEV1” virus to explain the renewed interest in the film.
Yet I believe there is something more profound happening in response to the Corona virus; people are more trusting of entertainment than institutions when it comes to health emergencies.
While the CDC and WHO try to make authoritative health information go viral (pun intended), millions are turning their attention to entertainment for a source of guidance. In our entertainment-driven society, I’m not surprised that audiences are more trusting of movies and games than they are of actual health authorities.
No matter how many forms of shareable content the CDC or WHO creates, they still struggle to engage audiences—even in times of global crisis.
Traditional health information media lacks the compelling character driven narrative that our story-hungry society craves. It’s impossible to pay attention to hand washing directions when the information is as sterile and dehumanizing as a cadaver. The health industry remains disempowering, intangible and inaccessible, while the entertainment industry provides audiences with opportunities to be a part of the story and therefore a part of the solution.
Contagion is not a movie about a viral outbreak—it’s a movie about group of individuals’ quest to stop a disease. Soderberg’s Contagion centers the narrative around the human condition—the needs, wants and desires of individuals, which is more relatable to audiences than patronizing infographics.
Plague Inc. focuses on the choices of the player. In Plague Inc. players are presented with opportunities to create a pandemic within game play. Plague Inc activates the player’s agency to make decisions that affect the story and final outcome of their game. Plague Inc. is the ultimate power trip for players.
If entertainment manages to capture the attention of audiences – engaging them in stories of health and providing opportunities for individuals to learn about pandemics, is it possible that entertainment can mobilize individuals to stop the spread of infectious disease?
WellPlay is the first entertainment company that changes behaviors. Our first game is Virus Hunters, an augmented reality (AR) mobile game that allows users to detect disease, build immunity and save the world from infectious disease. In Virus Hunters, we bring to life the microscopic concepts of biology with our AR characters. Players learn how viruses spread by scanning their environment for contagions and battling them in AR. Much like Pokemon GO, Virus Hunters encourages real world exploration but goes one step further by rewarding players in game play for healthy behaviors.
Virus Hunters allows players to level up in game play when they reach certain milestones such as 10,000 steps walked, or visits to health providers. Virus Hunters blends the AR adventure of a hero’s quest with the real time health interventions that improves lives.
At WellPlay, we believe that entertainment can improve health outcomes. We know that the pandemic prevention community struggles with engagement and we want to fix that, starting with our game Virus Hunters. As the COVID-19 crisis continues and health information campaigns continue to fail, we need new, innovative solutions for public health.
Why not try entertainment? Why not Virus Hunters?