MUNICH, GERMANY — Even though Covid-19 as a global health emergency was declared over at the beginning of May, it does not mean that it has disappeared. People around the world are still affected by the virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 Covid-19 infections leads to long-term health problems. Currently, millions of people are living with Long Covid, and this number continues to grow. As diagnostic and therapeutic options are currently inadequate, many of them could suffer from health limitations for the rest of their lives. Despite this, not many people know about this debilitating condition and fail to relate to the hardships faced by patients.
To raise awareness, especially among a younger audience, creative agency Saint Elmo’s and the Long-Covid Europe patient network have launched an awareness campaign using the world’s most popular single-player games.
Real Long Covid symptoms translated into game effects
Using game modifications, or mods, Long Covid Mode imposes debilitating effects on the game characters that resemble real Long Covid symptoms. These include exhaustion, reduced concentration power, dizzy spells, blackouts, shortness of breath, and more. This creates a new level of difficulty, something that gamers are always looking for, while also shining a light on what it’s like to live with the multi-system disorder.
“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. With Long Covid Mode, we were able to create a vivid simulation of life with Long Covid,” said Ann Li, Co-Chair of Long-Covid Europe.
Matthias Harbeck, Chief Creative Officer of Saint Elmo’s, shared, “Like Long Covid, games have no geographical boundaries. Our campaign can be experienced in any corner of the world and replicated for any number of games. Gaming is truly a fantastic medium to create awareness for such a complex and important issue.”
Awareness of ME/CFS as a component of the post-Covid syndrome
The launch of the campaign coincided with International ME/CFS Day on May 12 and came just before European Public Health Week. This was to highlight that Long Covid is a serious condition where ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is part of the clinical picture. It is estimated that up to half of individuals with Long Covid also have ME/CFS. Therefore, it is expected that due to Long Covid infections, the number of ME/CFS patients will increase massively in the coming years.
To draw attention to the introduction of the Long Covid Mode in Elden Ring, Minecraft, and The Witcher 3, Saint Elmo’s and Long-Covid Europe cooperated with prominent gamers who presented the new difficulty level live to their followers on release day. PC Gamer and Rock Paper Shotgun reported about it as well as more than 30 other international media.
Saint Elmo’s is responsible for the idea and concept of the gaming campaign for Long Covid awareness. The agency also developed the Long Covid Mode for Minecraft and, in cooperation with the developers Garden of Eyes and Stellar7Project, the game modifications for Elden Ring and The Witcher 3 respectively. The game modes are available to download for players online on nexusmods.com and legacy.curseforge.com.
The campaign also includes social media activities and a landing page that can be used to make donations to the Long Covid Europe patient network. Saint Elmo’s is also responsible for the implementation of the landing page and 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