Screenshot of the game 'Survive COVID'
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New Delhi: If, during the Covid-19 lockdown, you had to choose between walking 12 kms to your employer’s house to collect your salary of Rs 3,000 or borrowing Rs 6,000 on the interest of 10 per cent from the nearest money lender, what would you do?

This is one of the many hypothetical questions that the game ‘Survive COVID’ poses to show how difficult it is to survive a 21-day lockdown with limited money and resources.

The game, conceptualised by Chennai-based NGO Yein Udaan and launched on 27 April, is aimed at making people aware of the terrible circumstances that people are living in due to the extended nationwide lockdown.

The premise of the game is simple: You are a housemaid living with your two sons, an in-law, and your husband who is an auto driver. You need to survive the lockdown without running out of money or contracting Covid-19.

Developed by XR Labs, a solutions company that works with virtual reality, the game poses a series of questions with multiple choices and each choice will have a repercussion either on the amount of money one has or the risk of getting infected or both.

You lose the game if you run out of money or are at 100 per cent risk of contracting the infection before the three weeks come to an end.


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The game is aimed at sensitising people

Vedika Agarwal, founder of Yein Udaan, came up with the idea after blog posts and articles about the situation of migrant workers and slum dwellers failed to make any impact.

“I had tried writing blogs and posts about their problems but it did not seem to make an impact. That is when I came up with the idea of creating a game that puts the user in the shoes of a domestic help who supports her alcoholic husband, an in-law, and two sons. You are expected to survive 21 days with a few thousands that you may have. You lose the game if you run out of money or your risk of contracting COVID-19 reaches 100%,” she said.

She added that the aim of the game was not just to encourage people to contribute to the cause but also to “sensitise people about their struggles. Having stripped off their savings, they are struggling to survive”.

At the end of 21 days, the game provides a link through which they can donate to Yein Udaan, with a message: “Lakhs of families are fighting this lockdown one meal at a time. Many have been displaced, lost their livelihood, stripped of all savings, pushed back by years of hard work and toil, without even a clarity on when this crisis would end. If you played this game on a smartphone, it’s more likely you are privileged with several safety nets to survive the crisis for however long it extends.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had abruptly announced a nationwide lockdown on 24 March to arrest the spread of coronavirus. All non-essential services were suspended, which led to many people losing their sources of livelihood, especially daily wage labourers. The lockdown is in its third phase now and some restrictions have been lifted.

As of the morning of 8 May, there are 37916 active coronavirus cases and 1886 deaths in India. However, the disease is not the only thing claiming lives at the moment. The lockdown and how it was implemented has killed at least 200 people.


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