Chinese government backs Fruit Ninja-style game about killing viruses amid coronavirus outbreak
- The public education game, whose Chinese name translates to “battle of pathogens”, aims to help communicate epidemic prevention tips to players
- It was co-launched by a local government department in China with official newspaper People’s Daily and developed by ByteDance subsidiary Ohayoo
The game, launched on Monday, was initiated by the publicity department of the Haidian District Committee in Beijing and People’s Daily, an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Casual gaming studio Ohayoo, a subsidiary of TikTok-owner ByteDance, helped develop the game whose Chinese name translates to “battle of pathogens”.
In the game, players prevent different viruses – including the novel coronavirus, Sars and Mers respiratory diseases – from hitting a female character by slicing them up, in a format popularised by legendary melon-chopping game Fruit Ninja a few years ago.
Inspired by the behaviour of viruses in real life, the villains in the game can mutate and replicate, making them harder to destroy. At the end of each round, a health care tip appears on the screen.
Shanghai resident Ma Xiaomeng, 28, said she liked the level of detail in the game. “When viruses drop, the body temperature [indicated by a thermometer beside the female character] will go up. And when there is a mask, there'll be a protection cover [above her]. I think it's cute,” she said.
“Innovation in games is crucial to the development of the domestic game industry,” People’s Daily wrote in a report about the virus-themed game on Sunday. “At the same time, it is important to insist on good morals and social responsibility to ensure the industry is marked by positivity.”
Battle of Pathogens is meant to help players “release stress from long-term restrictions on going out” while also dispensing knowledge on epidemic prevention measures, according to People’s Daily.
The mini game is now available on Tencent's super-app WeChat, and will also be available on ByteDance’s Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, and its news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, later this week. A stand-alone app is also expected to be released soon, state news outlet Beijing Daily reported.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Tencent Games representative declined to comment on rivals but said the company has been sending health care tips to players via its gaming platform in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
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