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Wonder kids: Pakistani teenagers develop world’s first game to help fight Covid-19

STOP the SPREAD busts the myths and encour­ages to apply behavi­oural change­s to embrac­e the ‘new normal’

The kid duo —13-year-old Nabhan and 14-year-old Kenan — started working on the free-to-play game towards the end of February 2020, completed it in around a month’s time. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Two self-taught Pakistani wonder kids developed the world’s first multi-platform game to help fight Covid-19 pandemic by busting the myths and apply behavioural changes to embrace the “new normal” in an experiential learning simulation game.

STOP the SPREAD—developed by 13-year-old Nabhan and 14-year-old Kenan—is based on the design thinking and gamification principles so that the players learn more and be motivated to share the acquired knowledge with their friends and family to spread the word and to help stem the spread of deadly disease.

The kid duo started working on the free-to-play game towards the end of February 2020, completed it in around a month’s time and released it online on April 4, 2020.

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Now comes the interesting part.

Both Nabhan and Kenan have never been to any school, neither home-schooled. From basic literacy to numeracy, coding, design, animation and design thinking, the duo taught themselves since childhood to date.

Moreover, the video (embedded on the top), it’s logos, graphics, animation, editing, game website and web server and hosting were also managed by the kid duo.

Levels

The game has six levels and in the first four, one has to learn the facts, bust the myths and learn about preventions and precautions. The fifth level is unlocked only when you prove that you have learned enough to practice in public.

If the player continues to perform successfully by practising the social distancing standard operation procedures (SOPs), he will be graduated the level six, which is a classic retro-style arcade game and the player will get to enjoy eliminating the coronavirus from the world.

Game levels

Level 1: Facts & Myths

Level 2: Protection

Level 3: Preventions

Level 4: Symptoms

Level 5: Walk the Talk

Level 6: SOAPY to the rescue (Endless game)

Best strategy

The best strategy to play and score higher in the game, according to the developers, is to remember what you have learned with fun and answer the questions to gain enough points in the first four levels so that you can unlock the rest of the levels.

WHO is recommending video games as an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19

“The children are our future, therefore, we must support and promote the innovative and positive constructive contribution from the children towards the betterment of our society,” said the developers.

Nabhan and Kenan’s effort could help millions of children struggling to learn online, stressed out in their houses due to measures taken to curb coronavirus in the country including the closure of educational institutes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also encourages people to play video games to prevent the spread of the disease which has so far claimed over 435,000 lives and infected more than eight million.

A campaign #PlayApartTogether was introduced back in April in collaboration with 18 video game companies including live-streaming giant Twitch and Activision Blizzard.

The initiative aimed to encourage people to play video games and practice social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Keeping in line with the social distancing efforts around the world, many gaming companies such as Nintendo Switch are allowing players to connect with their friends online in times when in-person gatherings are prohibited.

The game can be downloaded from here.

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