Oh, No! Long Covid Comes for Characters in 3 Beloved Video Games

A strength-sapping awareness-raiser from Long Covid Europe

South Park once created a video game with a difficulty mode based on race to show how racism impacts advancement in life. In the same vein, the Long Covid Europe patient network aspires to teach people about the lingering serious consequences of the infection.

Agency Saint Elmo's (part of Serviceplan Group) created downloadable Long Covid settings for Elden Ring (co-developed with Garden of Eyes), Minecraft and The Witcher 3 (co-developed with Stellar7Project).

The level of thought that went into how the disease manifests in the games is elaborate.

The World Health Organization reports that one in 10 people diagnosed with Covid-19 experience continuing health problems. They manifest differently, often impede everyday functions and have no known cure. About 23 million Americans are believed to have Long Covid.

"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," says Ann Li, Long Covid Europe’s co-chair.

Game characters may suffer from exhaustion, reduced power of concentration, dizziness, blackouts, shortness of breath and more. They take longer to power up. Their arrows don't quite hit targets. They need to rest more often. The granular ways in which this mode manifests in gameplay mirrors what it's like struggling through life with a multi-system disorder.

Streamers helped welcome the gaming modes into the world as part of a larger social media push, and folks are invited to make donations supporting the cause.

 "Like Long Covid, games have no geographical boundaries," says Matthias Harbeck, chief creative officer of Saint Elmo's. "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."


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

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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