The whole situation with the epidemic in Wuhan is anything but simple; as always, you have the heroes and the villains; and just like with the SARS and with Chernobyl, the importance of clear communication is again underlined (in blood).
As some of you may know, my father was at the reactor site in Chernobyl right on the day when it blew up (it was his birthday, too – and by pure chance, he went to a dentist at that hour). Since he and his friends were scientists, they managed to join the liquidation effort without getting themselves killed by the radiation; 90% of the other people in the zone were not so lucky, though.
The biggest lesson that he shared with me when I grew up enough to process the information, was how most of the people who died from overexposure to radiation at Chernobyl did so because of the incompetence and cowardice of the bureaucrats. The Communist Party kept lying about the level of danger, and so the firefighters drove to their deaths without any protective clothing, while the common folk were encouraged to march on a Labour Day parade through Kyiv – at the time when it was already known that the city is covered in a radioactive cloud. On those days I was still in elementary school, and I remember how my grandmother came over to tell me and my friends that if the winds change, we must all stay indoors (while the teacher of our class, a loyal party member, told her off for spreading the panic).
, then, is a story about how on January 1, 2020 the police in Wuhan arrested 8 people accused of “spreading untruthful information
” about “viral pneumonia
”. That “pneumonia” will turn out to be the new coronavirus, and those “suspects” will turn out to be the doctors who tried to stop the epidemics early on (one of whom contracted the virus while treating patients).
If you’re running a multiplayer game, then this is the equivalent of banning players that report issues with your server: rather than helping to identify the problem early on, to avoid a shutdown for thousands of players, this squashes the (still small) issue for now, with a (much larger) payback later on.
At the same time, the epidemics highlights problems not only in China, but also outside. Perhaps I am naive, but I’m still surprised at how some of the people in my social feed (including industry colleagues) reason that “China is rich, so they don’t deserve our sympathy” – not to mention the purely racist statements that Chinese “deserve it for eating whatever they eat”.
is a story of how the Wuhan epidemics looks first-hand, as told by a husband whose pregnant wife got sick, and then died, while they burned through all of their family savings in the attempt to save her. At the end of the day, this is not about China, or Hubei, or Wuhan. This is about people and their suffering in the face of this disease, and the only humane response is to feel compassion. Nobody “deserves” this; not in China, and not elsewhere.
In terms of relief, I haven’t seen much from the games industry, but perhaps this is simply due to the language barrier: I assume that most major Chinese games (and tech) companies would be already involved, whether through help with the logistics, or through help with securing the supplies, or through both. With the information flow being what it is, we can only guess.
It was by pure accident that I learned this week, that Victor Kislyi
(Wargaming’s CEO and founder) donated $10 million
to help bring into China the required medical supplies. According to Google Translate, Wargaming’s local partner (360
) helps them to use these funds where they are needed the most (the original article is here
, in Chinese).