Video games could help fight coronavirus spread, WHO says

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The coronavirus pandemic has upended every facet of daily life and people are looking to keep themselves entertained in ways other than watching "The Office" for the eighth time.

Enter video games.

The video game industry, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, launched a campaign known as #PlayApartTogether, touting the benefits of gamers to remain socially distant, while still connecting with others around the world in an effort to fight COVID-19.

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“It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in the statement. "Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning. We are proud to participate in such a worthwhile and necessary initiative.”

In total, 19 companies have joined the program, including Activision Blizzard, Amazon Appstore and Twitch.

"The #PlayApartTogether initiative is a reminder that even while it's crucial we keep our distance from one another, we can keep enjoying the games we love and stay connected with people online," Michael Aragon, SVP of Content at Twitch, added. "We’re pleased to share key messages from the WHO alongside other members of the initiative to continue providing a place where people can come together, play games, and create community.”

In 2018, the WHO said compulsively playing video games qualified as a mental health condition, known as "Gaming Disorder."

At the time, the agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.

Some video game companies have tweaked their games to be more accessible for the stay-at-home mandates from governments across the world.

In mid-March, Niantic Labs, maker of the wildly popular "Pokemon Go" augmented reality app, announced it made it easier for gamers to play the game indoors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The safety of our global player community is our top priority. COVID-19 is challenging us and the world to adjust,” tweeted Niantic Labs on March 12. “We’re putting our focus on expanding features and experiences in our games that can be enjoyed in an individual setting and that also encourage exploration

“Pokémon GO” revenue has reportedly spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. Gamesindustry.biz, citing data from SensorTower, reports that the game recently enjoyed its best week for revenue this year.

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A Baptist church in Texas said it would do a virtual Easter egg hunt using the popular video game Minecraft because of the pandemic.

As of Thursday morning, at least 951,000 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, 216,000 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 48,320 deaths around the world, including at least 5,100 people in the U.S.

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Fox News' James Rogers, Caleb Parke and The Associated Press contributed to this story.