Coronavirus fearmongering is getting out of hand, but it's still a good idea to cancel PAX East and GDC 2020 before the outbreak gets worse.
The coronavirus outbreak has been one of the biggest disruptors to the gaming industry in recent memory. Esports events have been canceled. Next-gen consoles launch timelines are under threat. And major brands have begun pulling out of GDC 2020 and PAX East in droves.
Iconic companies like Sony and Kojima Productions have chosen not to attend these events. Mainly in an effort to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. This has drawn ire from certain people such as the mayor of Boston.
But with experts warning a U.S. coronavirus outbreak is “increasingly likely,” it’s time to straight-up cancel these gaming conferences altogether.
Whenever there’s a major health crisis like coronavirus, it’s easy to succumb to sensationalist panic. But while it’s always important to keep a level head, you should err on the side of cautions when human life is at stake.
The World Health Organization has said that the virus isn’t a pandemic yet. But absent a sudden increase in the effectiveness of containment efforts, it could get there soon.
The companies that pulled out of PAX East and GDC 2020 made the right decision. It’s more important to keep staff healthy and safe than it is to attend a conference.
Especially since these events have never been less relevant.
But don’t tell that to Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston – the host city for PAX East.
He not only blasted companies like Sony for acting out of fear but also accused those sentiments of reinforcing “harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle.”
It’s unsurprising that someone with a vested interest in PAX East – and the revenue it brings to Boston – would resist canceling the event. But Sony’s decision not to attend seems more like caution than irrational fear.
And it certainly has nothing to do with racial stereotypes.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of coronavirus media coverage that’s little more than scaremongering. It’s an unfortunate truth that fear gets people to click.
That doesn’t mean the outbreak isn’t serious, though. And it doesn’t mean that companies should put their employees at unnecessary risk of infection.
GDC and PAX East still matter, even in 2020. But conventions and conferences are a hotbed of germs already. Add the risk of a U.S. coronavirus outbreak to that mix, and things get 1,000 times worse.
It’s not even like coronavirus would stop PR announcements. The internet gives us great tools to manage these sorts of events via live streaming.
It’s time to start asking the question: Is any event – even one as high-profile as PAX East or GDC 2020 – more important than people’s health and safety?