The game is afoot

Written by Erica Salowe, Researcher

Edited by Laura Hamilton, Managing Partner


Good morning,


Over the weekend, I explored far-off galaxies in search of spare parts to patch up my derelict spacecraft. Navigating through swirling bodies of stars and dust, I fended off space pirates and bartered with alien merchants over meteoric diamonds – all from the comfort of my couch. 


While I may not be an intergalactic frontierswoman in reality, focusing on the “Rebel Galaxy” videogame freed my thoughts from coronavirus for a few precious hours. Immersing my senses in vivid graphics and a formidable country rock soundtrack, I managed to ease the discomfort of quarantine, if only for a while. 


I feel much less guilty about indulging in gameplay now that it’s been endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In a bid to educate players about social distancing guidelines, WHO has teamed up with gaming developers to launch an initiative called #PlayApartNotTogether. The hashtag is meant to spark healthy conversation on preventative actions across both gaming and social media platforms. 


And considering the massive spike of popularity in gaming, that message is sure to be well-received. For my generation in particular, the resurgence of childhood classics like Animal Crossing and Club Penguin have thrilled millions of millennials who have been pining to return to simpler, less stressful times. 


Even for those who have never played a videogame before, the experience of “levelling up” can provide a sense of progress – nay, agency – in this period of stupor. With all this time on our hands, what better occasion to try something new? 


Whether your aim is to socialise with friends, find a free and whimsical distraction, or just cope with the current state of the world, there is a game out there for you. Though a vacation isn’t on the cards any time soon, with the right videogame you can enjoy a mental getaway from the brick and mortar of your living quarters during this quarantine.  


News

With only 2,000 out of half a million frontline NHS staff tested so far, scientists warn that health officials need to scrap strict production rules that are hindering mass testing. Boris Johnson has shifted strategy on testing, commissioning private laboratories to produce tests instead of production through a centralised process.


Coronavirus cases have surpassed 930,000 globally, and America has recorded its deadliest day yet with over 1,000 fatalities, bringing the total to 5,138. To slow the spread, public health officials might recommend that more Americans wear face masks. 


Up to 3,000 armed forces reservists will be asked to aid the military response to tackling coronavirus. The Ministry of Defence has said the NHS, engineers and accountants will be provided with medical and logistical support from those with special skillsets. So far, the MoD has established a coronavirus response force of nearly 20,000 members. 


Business and economy

Roughly half of UK companies intend to furlough many of their employees due to coronavirus, and the cost of supporting wages is higher than the Treasury anticipated. One-fifth of UK businesses have temporarily closed operations, and one-third of businesses surveyed plan to furlough over 75% of workers in the next week. 


After grounding much of its fleet, British Airways is expected to announce the suspension of roughly 36,000 employees. Still in negotiations with the Unite union, the agreement would suspend up to 80% of British Airways engineers, ground staff and cabin crew, but no one would be made redundant.    


British factories have suffered their sharpest drop in output and largest number of layoffs since the global financial crisis. In a survey conducted between 12 and 26 March, reports show a fall from 51.7 in February to 47.8, which signals contraction.  


Columns of note

In The Guardian, Martin Kettle argues that the implementation of the Coronavirus Act 2020 has revived controversy over police power, discretion and coordination. Because the Act awards many powers to devolved authorities, and other powers are given to police officers, public health and immigration at a local level, an array of different enforcement approaches will lead to inconsistencies across localities and nations. With police using drones to track hikers in the Peak District, setting up roadblocks in North Yorkshire, and confronting passengers in the London Underground, Kettle questions whether authorities’ restrictions are going too far. He acknowledges that policing is a balancing act between public good and confrontation, and that the situation is relatively stable since public consent is high. However, police will face their most difficult challenge yet in a few weeks’ time, when restrictions start to lessen, and the lines become blurred regarding acceptable and unacceptable public behaviour. 


In a culture of instant gratification and immediate solutions, Matthew d’Ancona asserts that society lacks the perspective and patience needed to navigate the developments of coronavirus. By no means does he suggest that society should resign itself to mortalities or sluggish governmental responses; however, d’Ancona argues that society is quick to see solutions when leading scientists are only offering cautious optimism. This leads to high expectations and bouts of panic when cases and deaths rise. He advises the public to practice distinguishing hope from impatience, and suggests we start preparing for the long haul. 


Source: Evening Standard


Markets


What happened yesterday?


Trump’s warning to Americans that the next two weeks would be “painful” with an estimated swell of coronavirus deaths led Wall Street’s three major indexes to drop over 4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 973.65 points to 20,943.51, the Nasdaq Composite fell 339.52 points to 7,360.58, and the S&P 500 fell 114.09 points to 2,470.5.  


The number of Americans claiming unemployment, to be reported today, is predicted to be higher than the 3.3 million marked last week. 


The European equity market also ended the day on a low note. The FTSE 100 fell 3.8%, the FTSE 250 lost 3.67% and Paris’s CAC 40 dropped 4.3%. UK bank stocks plunged after the Bank of England advised against paying out billions to shareholders, causing the sector to halt dividends and buybacks. HSBC shares fell over 9%, while Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays lost nearly 12%. 


In Asian markets, the day was equally gloomy. China’s CSI 300 dipped 0.3%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi suffered greater losses of 4.5% and 3.9%, respectively. 


Vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, Randy Frederick, said that he believes investors and institutions are hanging onto cash over liquidity concerns. 


What's happening today?


Finals Saga


Interims

Tracsis


AGMs

Banco Santander

Gunsynd

Scot.amer.inv.

Wishbone


EGMs

Amiad Water


Int. economic announcements

(00:00) Producer Price Index (EU)

(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)

(13:30) Balance of Trade (US)

(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)

(15:00) Factory Orders (US)


Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

The Australian lyrebird can mimic almost any sounds it hears — including chainsaws, car alarms and camera shutters.


Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons


In recess until 21 April 2020.


House of Lords


In recess until 21 April 2020.


Scottish Parliament


No business scheduled.