Skip to main content

Long Covid Mods translate “real-world symptoms" into Elden Ring, Minecraft, and The Witcher 3

In an effort to raise awareness

Screenshot of some blocky woods in Minecraft with overlaid text that says "You're short of breath."
Image credit: Xbox Game Studios

A new series of challenge mod packs aim to raise awareness for Long Covid and chronic fatigue symptoms using three perennial favourites: Elden Ring, Minecraft, and The Witcher 3. The initiative is called Long Covid Mode and all three mods make sweeping adjustments to the games, turning “real-world symptoms into in-game effects.” Take a look at some of the examples below:

Watch on YouTube

Long Covid Mode was organised by NGO Long Covid Europe, who contacted three teams of modders with the idea of giving Geralt Of Rivia, the Tarnished, and our Blockguys debuffs that are supposed to represent Long Covid symptoms.

Blasting apart blocks in Minecraft is a much different experience to trekking through Elden Ring’s interlocking world, or The Witcher 3’s fantasy vistas. Despite this, all three Long Covid Modes interpret and translate these symptoms into similar penalties. Healing items sometimes hurt you in all three mods, for instance, representing digestive problems. Weak memory randomly causes runes and other items to disappear, as another example. The most creative implementation comes from The Witcher 3’s mod which splits the symptoms into four worsening stages, from fatigue to post-exertional malaise, slowly introducing more disruptive debuffs.

Long Covid Europe’s co-chair Chantal Britt says: “Despite the fact that those who are severely affected are forced to spend their lives housebound or even bedbound, such illnesses have been trivialised, underfunded, and neglected by research, medicine, and society.” The aim of these mods are to supposedly raise awareness on behalf of patients who are often physically hindered.

I’m not sure how effective these mods are in communicating the lived experience of Long Covid, as suggested by some parts of the press release. But, while they’re definitely silly, some good could trickle out of these mods. Perhaps a few streamers and speedrunners will use these mods to raise money for patients. A parent could use Minecraft as a starting block when talking to children. Maybe that’s enough.

Decide for yourself, if you like. The Long Covid Mode for Elden Ring is available to download on NexusMods. The Witcher 3’s mod is also available on NexusMods. And Minecraft’s challenge mod is up on CurseForge.

Read this next