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The Novel Coronavirus, Game Events, and You

In a matter of a couple months, the impact of the hugely-publicized coronavirus outbreak has reached far beyond its origins in Wuhan, China late last year. The coronavirus (named as the “novel coronavirus” or 2019 n-CoV) has created an outsize impact, even greater than the higher-impact, more deadly seasonal flu. Still, as this virulent coronavirus has spread, killing hundreds and infecting thousands of people, so has the impact on travel, commerce and government. While much is unknown about the 2019 n-CoV, it appears it can incubate for 10-14 days before symptoms and be spread during that no-symptoms-showing window, and there’s no vaccine for it at this time.

Because travel and events, as a gathering place for people, represents a risk factor for broader transmission of the 2019 n-CoV, many organizers are acting preemptively to postpone events to a time when, hopefully, this coronavirus is contained and treatment options are available.

The game industry and its conferences and events in the early part of 2020 are not immune to the effects either. Most of the events feeling the greatest impact are in and around southeast Asia. Here’s a summary of some of the bigger events affected (as of the date of publication):

Gamethon Expo

The Gamethon Expo, which was originally scheduled for February 19-21, in New Delhi, India, has been postponed to July 7-9, 2020. As has been the case with other event postponements, organizers cancelled the original event dates as a precautionary step for the health and safety of attendees.

On the official website, a pop-up notification, aside from announcing the new event date, thanked “exhibitors, delegates, conference speakers and business visitors for supporting our decision to postpone the Gamethon 2020 and co-located expos.” The organizers also to use the extra time to “aggressively promote the expo, and promise you a blockbuster show.”

Overwatch League

Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL) announced on Twitter that all matches in February and March in China, in the interest of health and wellness of all participants, would be postponed to a later date. The new dates for the matches will be announced later. Two of the four Chinese OWL teams, the Shanghai Dragons and Guangzhao Charge for safety reasons, have temporarily relocated to South Korea.

Taipei Game Show

Within the last week, the Taipei Game Show has been postponed from the week of February 6th to the summer of 2020, the organizers have announced. The Taipei Game Show has attracted 300,000 visitors in recent years and has been growing in importance and visibility, as one of the first international stages to showcase games in 2020. Given the proximity to —  and the number of attendees likely to attend from — China, the postponement was on short notice but also just about unavoidable.

The full post from the organizers is on their official event website here.

The 2020 Global Game Jam, a series of game-making events around the world, which was held January 31st to February 2nd, was affected differently, since it’s a series of events and not just one centralized gathering.

Kate Edwards, the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam, in a direct message to Events for Gamers, said, “As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, one GGJ site in Sri Lanka was shut down due to one confirmed case in the area. All of our GGJ sites in mainland China and Hong Kong were switched to remote-only sites – something we don’t usually allow for the GGJ but this is an extraordinary circumstances. Other sites in the region are taking precautions with making face masks and sanitizing hand gel available.”

For the immediate future, it will makes sense to keep a particularly close eye on your favorite event for new safety and sanitary precautions, cancellations or postponements. Some speakers and vendors may not attend a conference that you may have expected them to be attending, because of health or safety reasons.

To lower your own risk of flu (and other infections) whether attending an event or not, be sure to follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • “Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.”

Keep tabs on any updates from these event organizers and Events for Gamers, if there are other related updates to pass along.


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