James Vaughan, the creator of Plague Inc., a 8 year old video game that redefined the strategy genre, knows exactly what to expect when a deadly virus similar to Covid-19 takes over the world.
What is Plague Inc.?
Plague Inc. is a disturbing take on the current world, if only there was a role reversal where we were the ones controlling the disease rather than fighting it. The game takes place on a map of the world, with the level of contagion represented by an always expanding mass of red. Players take control of a disease, choosing how lethal it is, where it begins, and how it spreads. The virus spreads from country to country, while a progress bar representing the development of a cure slowly fills up.
The difficulty in the game lies in a complex algorithm that factors in, among various other things, how often people wash their hands. Players lose if humanity finds a cure and win if they successfully extinguished it. So don’t forget to wash your hands! (among other things)
Plague Inc.’s surge in sales during Covid 19
Plague Inc. has, for long, been a hit for Jame Vaughan’s studio Ndemic Creations. According to the studio’s most recent annual report, Plague Inc game has attracted in excess of 130 million players since its release in 2012.
The spikes in its popularity occur, rather unsurprisingly, during health crises; signalling that instead of shutting out a game like this during a pandemic, people often talk about it more. Twitter is now full of gamers joking about how real life has become more like a game of Plague Inc., with some of them saying they find it empowering to play as a virtual disease while a real one cripples their real world.
Plague Inc. donates $250,000 to fight COVID-19
Contrary to what you may believe, Ndemic Creations, the game’s makers, are very pro-human. The proof lies in their recent donation of a quarter of a million dollars to help fund COVID-19 relief efforts. In addition to this, just when you thought the game couldn’t get more real, it’s makers announce their plan to add a new game mode to Plague Inc. that lets players stop an outbreak as well.
Everyone is impacted by COVID-19. On behalf of all Plague Inc. players, we have just donated a quarter of a million dollars to @CEPIvaccines and @WHO to help fight it.https://t.co/kAZtjwn89b pic.twitter.com/DinQpvRqCk
— Plague Inc. / Rebel Inc. (@NdemicCreations) March 23, 2020
A new Plague Inc game mode
The idea of a new game mode that lets players stop a contagion instead of starting it, came from a donation discussion Ndemic Creations had with the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In it, players will need to manage health care systems, the disease’s progression, and the public’s response to the outbreak — yes, you guessed it, you will be able to make your citizens practice social distancing for fun!
The update will be free for all players at launch and remain free for as long as the Covid 19 pandemic lasts. The release date hasn’t been announced, with its developers working hard (from home of course).
According to the official Plague Inc. website, James Vaughan exclaims that around eight years ago he could have never predicted the real world would come so close to resembling a game of Plague Inc. Or even that so many players would be using the game to help them cope through an actual pandemic.
So would you rather start a pandemic or end it (in a game we mean)? Tell us in the comments below.