Newsbeat

Coronavirus: NHS workers get free video games

A mother and daughter play PlayStation Image copyright Getty Images

NHS staff are being gifted free access to video games to say thank you for their work during coronavirus.

Big companies like EA, Konami, Xbox and Sega, as well as independent studios, are part of the Games for Carers initiative.

The studios say NHS workers can use the games "when they get some well-earned down time, or to provide relief for their families".

More than 85,000 games will be available to download.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the UK games industry has helped share the government's Stay Home, Save Lives message in popular games like Fifa and Fortnite.

"We have worked closely with games companies to help keep people safe and I am delighted the sector is continuing to support the NHS in such an innovative way," says Digital and Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage.

All NHS workers need to do to get access is visit the dedicated Games for Carers website and enter their NHS email address - although due to the level of interest after launch, the site went down for a short time.

The initial idea for Games for Carers came from Scottish video game journalist Chris Scullion and gained support from the UK games body, Ukie, as well as video game marketing platform Keymail.

The gaming community has "united" to say thank you to the "truly extraordinary people who make up the NHS frontline team", Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist says.

"Games companies of all sizes and players everywhere recognise their exceptional dedication and hope this initiative goes some way to help them to understand how respected and valued they are."

Since countries around the world entered lockdown lots of people have been turning to games to pass the time, stay connected, and help their mental health.

One of the most popular has been Nintendo's Animal Crossing, which went straight to the top of the gaming chart the week it was released at the end of March.

"Even though it's just a digital virtual world and I suppose nothing you do in it really actually makes a difference, having a little place where there's not a global pandemic and everything is pretty OK is a really nice escape," 23-year-old Akemi, who's been playing the franchise since was she was nine, told Radio 1 Newsbeat at the time.

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