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Hazy Days – Play to experience China’s smog horror

beijing-air-quality

Photo by @belengomezsanz

During the first months of 2015 I lived in Beijing. I had decided to improve my Mandarin and chose the Chinese capital as the most culturally interesting option. I had heard about smog and pollution but, hey guys! I was born in a capital city! I can cope with it!

But I couldn’t.

After 1 month my lungs ached. I had to buy a mask and checked obsessively a website providing air pollution updates. If data were high, I used to take refugee inside a mall hoping that they will have good air filters. Polluted cities reach around 80 points for PM2.5 or PM10 (the worst pollution agents). On March 28th 2015 Beijing reached 895 points.

In 87 days I saw a blue sky 5 days, the rest of the time, it looked foggy, but I knew it was pure pollution. It was impossible to see more that 200 meters in front of you. Foreign workers are being offered extra vacation days every 3 or 4 months called “cleaning lungs days” to go out of the country.

It is basically a nightmare. Now I’m back in my city and still wonder at blue skies.

Hazy-Days-Breath-oxygen

Help Xiao Feng stay healthy for 7 days

So when I discovered ‘Hazy Days‘, I knew I had to write about it. Its developer Mike Ren, lived a similar experience in Shanghai and he decided to take action. “China’s air pollution levels are constantly covered in the media,” he explains. “With Hazy Days, I hope to humanize the issue so that the problem can be more relatable.”

Described as a breathing simulator, in ‘Hazy Days’ you will help little Xiao Feng, a 10 years old girl to survive 7 days healthy without polluting her lungs too much. Calculate when she should breathe and when she should hold her breath based on the pollution around. Play the spitting mini-game to get rid of the air pollution that inevitably will get stuck in Xiao Feng’s lungs.

The mechanics are easy and the art coloured and beautifully simple, but the uneasiness and the anxiety that as a player you will experience taking care of this little girl’s health, it is cruelly real.

You can download Hazy Days for free in the official game’s website for your PC or MAC.

You can take a look to players reactions and gameplay mechanics in this other video by RiskRim

About Belén Gómez

Graduate in Communications, Movie Direction and finishing a degree in English Language and Literature, her multidisciplinary career includes TV and movie direction, script-writing, video games localization, game design, international project management and multi-platform video game production. Curious about everything, she divides her time between onseriousgames.com, Serious Games projects, any Assassin’s Creed title and her Mandarin Chinese lessons.

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