When Ndemic Creations designed Plague Inc., little they had known their small effort to intrigue mobile gamers into a new genre will wreak havoc in mass media years later. I remember installing and playing Plague for the first time in 2014, which would be my second year in college. The game and its concept is amazing; one has to admit that fact. Though, it’s one of the best strategy games available on mobile platforms; however, there is a hint of pessimism and negativity in the entire architecture of the game. I mean, making users kill the entire world by smart and manipulative virus cultivation is not entirely a wise thing to endorse in the form of a game. But again, it’s just a game, isn’t it?
Amid the COVID-19, the game has taken up the news bulletins all over again. The game’s sales figures have registered a hike with users getting attracted to it; whereas on the other hand, administrations and even the developers of the game are urging people to not compare the game against the Coronavirus outbreak. Let’s get into the detail of the situation, and learn why Plague suddenly got famous again.
What is Plague About?
Plague Inc. is a strategy simulation game, where the players are required to cultivate a virus of their choice across the world with the aim of total devastation, anarchy, and ultimately human extinction. Yes, they mean it when they say extinction because you literally lose the game if even one person of the seven billion on this planet survives your planned outbreak.
The game is designed specifically for mobile and is available on both iOS and Android, as well as was earlier available for Windows Phone as well. The game has a Steam and Console version for PC, Mac, and Linux computers and is titled Plague Inc.: Evolved.
How Plague Works?
- For start, users are allowed to name their virus. You’re then redirected to a screen with World Map. You begin with choosing a location to cultivate the virus.
- Once the virus begins to spread in the chosen location, you start getting DNA points. These DNA points help you mutate the virus further.
- Users can use these points to increase the symptoms of the virus, along with their intensity. These points are also used to increase the intensity of transmission via air, water, livestock, mosquitos, etc.
- The DNA points also help build resistance in virus against antibiotics, temperature, climate, and other cure efforts. This ultimately leads to slow-down in vaccine research.
- The more people die or get infected, more rapidly, you get DNA points and hence, more rapidly, your virus grows beyond limits.
- There are visible sea routes and air routes, and you can see aeroplanes and boats crossing international territories, which actually leads to the automatic spread of the virus
- Keep playing, keep mutating, and beat the cure research to kill everyone and win.
- Now, when you upgrade to the Pro version of the game, you can even change the genetic code of the cultivated virus and can go beyond imagination to make this game as realistic as possible.
Why Coronavirus is Being Compared with Plague Inc.?
Well, there are just simulation similarities between the game, and the way Coronavirus outbreak is hampering world order. Here are a few similarities that may have sparked a debate over the connection between Plague Inc. and COVID-19:
The first and foremost reason is China. COVID-19 broke out of China. The game’s core deal is to kill everyone. Now, the game has some real-world aspects added to it. China, being the most populated of all, is the first choice of all gamers to cultivate the virus so that they can register most kills in one go.
2. The Sea and Air Travels
In the game, the virus is automatically spread via air and sea travels. You can notice the routes in red which indicate that that particular route carried the infection ahead. COVID-19 itself spread through travel. Many travellers from European regions such as Italy have unknowingly spread the virus just like in the game.
3. Virus Mutation and Symptoms
The symptoms of the virus in the game can be mutated to withstand temperatures and any formula that’s used for vaccine purposes. Coronavirus is also mutating. Researchers are trying hard to create a feasible DNA structure of the virus to test vaccine formulas but have been unsuccessful as of yet.
The symptoms of the virus cultivated in-game, and that of the COVID-19 are similar. Users in-game can mutate the virus to develop symptoms like coughing and nausea, which can be further evolved into fatal lung infections.
The myths are also one of the commonalities between the game and the ongoing pandemic. In the game, there is a news billboard that gives the latest updates on how the virus is impacting the world. The bulletin sometimes reveals weird reports about misleading cures and precautionary measures. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a fair share of misleading information and hoaxes going around.
5. Law Enforcement in Game and Real Scenario
The game uses some real-world ramifications against the players and contain the viruses. For example, there are blockades on the sea and air transports, shutdowns on land borders, martial laws in effect, etc.
The game also uses anarchist events where a government is thrown out, leading to chaos and faster spread and transmission of the virus. This is something that has been witnesses amid COVID-19 pandemic situation in many countries.
6. Washing Hands and Social Distancing
The game can be played on three different levels of difficulties. In these three levels, there are variations in the speed of research, making it easier or difficult to win the round. But t two more factors have come into play.
As the level goes up, there are also variations in people washing their hands and their concerns towards social distancing. We all know how both these precautions are suggested amid Coronavirus outbreak right now.
Is Plague Modelling Coronavirus?
There is indeed spike in the downloads and purchases of the game amid the outbreak. Yes, some factors are common, and users may get a basic understanding of how viruses spread. For example, it’s true that viruses have common symptoms such as coughing, and they can be transmitted from one person to another. This also makes travel dangerous as it causes the virus to break into different territories and difficult to control.
But Plague IS NOT a scientific model for understandingthe current pandemic situation. The game has some bizarre algorithms to spread the cultivated virus, which aren’t possible at all. Here it’s the user that’s using some earned points to rapidly mutate the virus, which is not possible in real-life scenarios. Plus, the way the cure research is depicted in the game is unrealistic as the developers have focused more on the intention of the game, which is to kill not save. Yes, the game is made to be realistic and informative. It takes into account a number of true-life situations to manipulate the simulation. But in the end, it’s JUST A GAME.
The developers from Ndemic Creations have also released an official statement in this regard.
Consider Plague Inc. A Game and Nothing More
It’s understood how panicking the outside situation is right now. But amid this pandemic, every one mustremain informative and in the right mental state. As developers urged, I also request our readers to get their information from the right sources and do not trust a game to be a solution to your concerns. It WILL NOT help you understand the outbreak and will only impart wrongful knowledge.
Visit the World Health Organization’s official portal to get confirmed updates and consider Plague Inc. as a game and nothing more. The game is currently banned in China due to the panic its idea may have caused. But again, it’s only a game and nothing more.
Adopt social distancing and focus on your hygiene and clean living amid the outbreak. It’s a global concern now, and everyone must play a part in it. Stay away from false information and hoaxes and stay home to avoid unwanted spread and transmission of COVID-19.