Spreading faster than coronavirus

Teen’s video game about COVID-19 going viral

The pandemic has given many people the chance to learn new skills or pick up a new trade.

For 16-year-old Josh Ternyak, it was to use his coding skills to create a video game called “CovidInvaders” that not only gives players a chance to “kill the virus,” but to learn about the virus and vaccine.

Ternyak, of Plymouth, Minnesota, said the game went viral, with thousands of people firing shots at the virus.

“I’ve got a lot of people playing it,” Ternyak said. “It exploded.”

In the game, which launched Dec. 29, players control a syringe that tries to shoot the vaccine toward the red virus, some of which are wearing masks.


The game itself bears resemblance of the 1978 arcade game “Space Invaders” in which players destroy asteroids.

Ternyak said the idea to develop the game was inspired by his friend Roman Peysakhovich, and Ternyak thought basing the game off “Space Invaders” was a good start.

This is also the first video game Ternyak has created. Ternyak said it took two months to build the game.

“The first two weeks were spent figuring out how it should look. The next two weeks, I met with a designer about how the game play itself would look,” he said. “I wanted to build something kid-friendly and explain how the vaccine works.”

After the rough edges were smoothed out, it was time to publish the game. One of the things Ternyak said he wanted to do was make sure the game could be played on computers, tablets and mobile devices.

The final touch was a song Ternyak wrote that plays during game play.

He wanted the game to serve as an inspiration for people to learn about both the vaccine and the virus. In the game play, facts about the virus pop up on screen.

“I’m not trying to tell people to take the vaccine, but I’m trying to come as a third-party point of view and spread the positives of the vaccine in a positive way,” Ternyak said.

He said he so excited to see so many people playing the game and joked that it is going viral more than the virus.


Ternyak has been coding since he was 11. A large part of his interest is due to his older brother introducing the skill to him.

“My brother has been my mentor,” Ternyak said. “He got me into it and taught me how to do it.”

Ternyak also said he’s gotten more serious about codin, and when he turned 13 he began to take it more serious by learning as much as he could from his brother.

“He’s really excited with the game and guided me toward the actual structure of the game,” Ternyak said.

Moving forward, Ternyak said he has no intention to sell the game if any companies reached out.

“I just want to inspire as many people as possible,” he said.

Ternyak’s goals include working on a few other projects, and he wants to perfect the craft.

To play the game, visit covidinvaders.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today