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Epidemiologist explains Covid-19 in a video gamer’s perspective 

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @CeBacligINQ
/ 06:12 PM February 03, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Ever wondered about comparing Covid-19 to a video game to explain how to defeat the dreaded disease? That is exactly what an epidemiologist in the United States did in a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday.

Harvard epidemiologist, health economist, and health justice advocate Eric Feigl-Ding Tweeted on his account about what he called a “Coronavirus analogy for Starcraft.”

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“Remember Terran versus Zerg battles? Zerg evolve super fast & their swarms are unstoppable once they mutate/evolve and infect widely,” said Feigl-Ding in a Tweet.

“Terrans can win only if stop Zerg early, or tech upgrades fast. Which means lockdown & vaccinate fast,” he added, connecting the strategy to win the game and the health protocols and inoculation drive to beat Covid-19.

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StarCraft is a sci-fi real-time strategy game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Windows in 1998. The video game franchise was meanwhile created by Chris Metzen and James Phinney and is owned by Blizzard Entertainment.

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To play the game, players are asked to choose between three races — two of which have already been mentioned by Feigl-Ding in his Tweets. The Terrans are humans equipped with powered combat suits and are backed with specialized vehicles and war machines like tanks.

On the other hand is the Zerg, an alien race that opts to swarm enemies with superior numbers. The Zergs force-evolve and mutate to match the technology harnessed by Terrans and the Protoss – the most technologically advanced race of the three.

Move fast or lose

According to Feigl-Ding, similar to playing StarCraft, people in real life should also act fast, implement Covid-19 control and prevention plans, and adopt the health protocols against the disease. He also reminded everyone to never be complacent.

“Having played @StarCraft since high school, and learned the game dynamics through hundreds of Terran vs Zerg, you learn what works and what doesn’t. And being complacent never works fighting a hyper mutating enemy pestilence, or fighting amongst Terrans in multiplayer,” the epidemiologist said.

“If you don’t move fast against a fast-evolving plague species, you will always lose. Hence, If we don’t shut down the Zerg or the #SARSCoV2 coronavirus with lockdowns and a #ZeroCovid strategy, we will lose. If we don’t vaccinate fast enough, we will lose. That simple,” he continued.

Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of February 2, there have been 25,930,068 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US with a total of 437,964 deaths.

The country started its mass vaccination drive last December after receiving doses of US-based pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccines.

According to an article published by Bloomberg on Tuesday, around 26.5 million in the US have already received jabs of the vaccine.

In the Philippines, as of Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that the country has a total of 530,118 Covid-19 cases. Of the sum, 487,721 have already recovered while 10,942 individuals succumbed to the disease.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said last week that the government is expecting to receive over a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this month. He added that there is a possibility of an early rollout once the vaccines have arrived in the country.

A nostalgic approach

A swarm of gamers and fans of StarCraft reacted to Feigle-Ding’s Twitter thread, mostly calling it a “great analogy.”

Inquirer.net asked some players of the video game their opinion about the epidemiologist’s analogy.

“As someone who played StarCraft, it’s a good analogy especially for those who only casually play the game,” said Sam Regalado, who used to play the game until 2012.

“It’s a good analogy,” said Excel Kit Palmes, adding that it reminded him of the “good times.”

Meanwhile, Kiel Cruz, an active player of the game, said the analogy somehow represents some similarities between the current Covid-19 situation and the video game’s setting.

“While the coronavirus is not as fast to spread compared to Zergs, its effect is parallel to it. More and more people will get infected if you cannot identify and isolate who is infected among the Terrans,” he said.

“Sadly, the only way to get rid of infected Terrans is simply burning them. For us, we do have some kind of hope with treating [people who contracted Covid-19],” he added.

When asked if they found Feigle-Ding’s Coronavirus-StarCraft analogy effective in explaining the virus and ways to beat it, most of them believed that it is not as effective as it looks since it only taps a specific niche or community.

Alden Castro, an avid and competitive StarCraft player, agreed that the analogy is good “but it doesn’t help in explaining the Covid-19 and the Covid-19 prevention plan to the majority of the people.”

“It’s not effective. It’s only effective [for those who play] StarCraft [while other] people will be confused,” he added.

Cruz also agreed with Castro, explaining that “it’s only for those who grew up and played SC. As the RTS genre is greatly declining from its boom of popularity during the late 90s until early 2000s, less and less people are familiar with games like this.”

“So I guess it can relate to a certain group of people. But I guess the strategy of the WHO and the strategy in SC is in line with dealing against viral diseases, only that it makes it more interesting to talk about the game rather than “boring” health protocols,” he continued.

StarCraft II was among the lineup of games during the inaugural esports event at the 2019 South East Asian Games (SEA Games) held in San Juan City.

Filipino player Caviar “EnDerr” Acampado bagged a gold medal after defeating Singapore’s Thomas Kopankiewicz in the StarCraft II SEA Games event.

JPV

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