Indie developers honor frontline medical workers fighting the coronavirus in a new game
You only get 15 minutes playing as a doctor, his daughter and a patient, but Chinese gamers adore the heartwarming story
“There’s no hero who falls from the sky. There are only mortals who step in at perilous times.”
That’s the message conveyed in a new game about the lives of the people most affected by the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The Chinese indie game Nixingzhe -- which means “going against the grain” -- is a nonprofit title that highlights the troubles faced by frontline medical workers and the people closest to them as they combat the Covid-19 disease. The story is told from the perspective of three characters: A doctor, his daughter and a patient. But it mostly centers around the daughter.
When you first fire up the game, you play as a young girl whose parents are medical workers. Your father is a doctor who’s currently on the front line diagnosing patients while your mother was a nurse who combated the Sars outbreak back in 2003.
The game lets you experience the love and concern the daughter has for her father. But you also get to play as the patient and the father. So the game allows you to experience what it is like being caught in the middle of the outbreak from different vantage points.
Although the game doesn’t really have a whole lot of interesting gameplay and is extremely short -- it has just under 15 minutes of gameplay -- Chinese gamers seem to adore it for being a heartwarming tribute to those working to contain the spread of the deadly virus. So far, the game has a score of 9.6 out of 10 on TapTap and more than 65,000 followers.
According to developer ACE Game Studio, the game was put together over the span of 20 days with contributions from more than 60 game developers as a sign of support for the medical profession in China. It contains no ads and has no paid content, the developer says.
This new game shows how video games are increasingly becoming a medium for people to document and comment on current affairs. Last year there were multiple games about the violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong. In one pro-protest game, gamers get to play as a frontline protester trying to avoid arrest and dodge bullets from the police. In another game that’s against the protests, players beat up protesters and activists with baseball bats and flip flops.
Nixingzhe is certainly less divisive than protest games, though, as it aims to honor those who are risking their lives to contain a disease that’s killed more than 2,000 people. In mid-February, the government revealed that more than 1,700 healthcare workers around China had been infected by the virus. At least six of them have died, including one of the first doctors to alert people about a new Sars-like illness and the director of a major hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.