MED GAIMS and the value of video games in time of global COVID-19 pandemic
MED GAIMS is an international cooperation project that promotes the use of gamification (analog and digital) for the enhancement of less-known touristic sites in the field of cultural heritage. MED GAIMS is implemented by a partnership from Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, and Spain. In spite of the many challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MED GAIMS partners have continued to work remotely on project development. However, paradoxically, the forced global lockdown has highlighted the project’s relevance and put the spotlight on the strategic importance of a never before considered platform, video-gaming.
Indeed, the use of video games has peaked recently due to the stay-at-home directives employed by most countries. This resulted in significant surge in the use and purchase of video games. During the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the international campaign #PlayApartTogether, an initiative that promotes video games as an activity that can help communities stay in touch through multiplayer modes. The goal of the campaign is to convince everyone of the need to stay at home and to comply with the guidelines on social distancing. However, this lockdown should compromise the modes of social engagement and interaction which are important for the preservation of mental health. The WHO campaign was supported by many of the major companies in the video-gaming sector and by major streaming services, who reinforced the message with specific events and activities in the most popular games.
At the same time, the Italian government indirectly became a “MED GAIMS ally”, when it included extraordinary measures to support the video game industry. The recent Relaunch Decree (No. 34 of 19 May 2020) creates the First Playable Fund, a 4 million Euro fund dedicated to the national digital entertainment market. For the first time in Italy, the strategic value of the gaming industry for the development of the country is recognised. With this measure, Italy aligns itself with other countries (such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Poland) that are already moving in this direction. Such initiatives give a renewed respect for the gaming industry and acknowledging the power of a strategic alliance with games to revitalise and invigorate the cultural and tourism sector.
The strategic importance of the gamification was trail blazed by the MED GAIMS project, which may now be looked at with even greater expectations in the wider geographic area it involves. The partnership founded on the conviction that games can help promote and elevate the tourist experience of certain geographical locations in the Mediterranean region, hopes to establish an example of good practice for innovation in tourism and cooperation across different sectors. The MED GAIMS project involves the creation of 40 games, of which at least half will be digital, that are set in and dedicated to different cultural and tourism sites in the partner territories. In the coming months, the project will be awarding small grants to creative professionals and companies in the sector for the creation of a number of these games.
For more information, please visit the project website http://www.enicbcmed.eu/projects/med-gaims