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A Wildly Popular Video Game Is Adding Anti-Vaxxers in The Next Deadly Plague

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A Wildly Popular Video Game Is Adding Anti-Vaxxers in The Next Deadly Plague

PETER DOCKRILL

28 FEB 2019

 

Lots of video games let you take on the role of the anti-hero: Grand Theft Auto, Hitman, even Mario's mischievous alter-ego, Wario.

But there's never been a video game anti-hero quite like Plague Inc. – in this massively successful pandemic simulator, you actually play the role of a deadly and contagious pathogen, hell-bent on wiping humanity off the face of the planet.

Now, in response to public demand via an ongoing petition at Change.org, this wildly popular plague game is going to incorporate a new menace in its chilling disease-spreading simulations: anti-vaxxers.

 

Anti-vaxxers might sound like a strange inclusion for a video game, but it makes a lot of sense for Plague Inc.

In other games, you might choose to be a warrior, a wizard, or a cleric. In Plague Inc., your options include things like being a virus, a fungus, or perhaps nasty bacteria.

 

If those character selections sound a little dull, how about conquering the world as a parasite, or the Black Death? Or maybe you'd like to try your chances as a deadly lab-engineered bio-weapon?

(Ndemic Creations)

 

It's this limitless amount of pathogenic possibilities that has seen Plague Inc.notch up some 120 million players across the world since it was released, with the developers jokingly claiming the game has 'infected' 1.6 percent of the world's population.

If it all sounds in poor taste, consider this: the game's creator, UK-based economics graduate James Vaughan, used his knowledge of economic modelling to build a game that could realistically explore the ways diseases spread between various countries, affected by a host of factors such as transmissibility, lethality, mutations, and weather conditions.

 

It might be entertainment, but it's also an approachable introduction to the way disease epidemics can actually play out.

Vaughan has even given a talk about infectious disease modelling at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while a more recent Plague Inc. follow-up title has been suggested to contain a few pointers for the Pentagon.

 

"It was more about building a game I wanted to play," Vaughan previously told Apple in an App Store developer feature.

"The fact that Plague Inc. is fun and based on scientific principle means education is in its DNA."

(Ndemic Creations)

 

This is where the new anti-vaxxers game scenario comes in.

Part of the reason for the game's ongoing success has been an almost endless stream of new content since the title was first launched in 2012.

 

Many of these updates have a fantastic bent: zombie plagues, vampiric infections, and a 'Simian Flu' inspired by the Planet of the Apes saga.

 

But not all the new additions are fictional; some act as topical reflections of the global health landscape we see around us every day.

One recent update was centred around a Science Denial scenario: as the world is menaced by a virulent pathogen, scientists seek refuge in a world ruled by an anti-science mob of flat-Earthers and climate change deniers, who break into labs and destroy research, unwittingly aiding the disease's spread.

 

In a similar spirit, Ndemic Creations, the company behind the game, has now announced they'll also be incorporating anti-vaxxers into the Plague Inc. mix, citing the popularity of a Change.org petition demanding the feature (with over 20,000 backers at time of writing).

It's not yet known what exact form the anti-vaxxers update will take, but much like they do in real life, the in-game anti-vaxxers might perhaps perpetuate ill-informed conspiracies online, enabling anti-vax hotspots to emerge inside countries, and ultimately encouraging the spread of terrible, fatal diseases.

 

It would be nice if these awful real-world outbreaks were hermetically sealed inside the harmless, fictional universe of a game world.

Sadly, they're not.

 

One thing we can hope, though, is that the new Plague Inc. update helps educate people about the harmfulness of the anti-vaxxer community, by demonstrating the chilling ways their actions help distribute disease across the globe.

Games are one thing. But in the real world, nobody should be rooting for the pathogen.

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-wildly-popular-video-game-about-deadly-plagues-is-adding-anti-vaxxers-to-the-list

Personal Comment: Pretty hilarious that a video game that was lauded by the CDC for its accuracy when it comes to pathogens and the ease at which an epidemic can occur has added anti-vaxxers to the list of variables that would contribute to a larger spread of disease. 

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I’ve noticed similar things happening in other games, notably CIV 6 GS as far as ideologically inspired gameplay mechanics go. We live in an interesting age, it makes me wonder if many of the games I cherished in my childhood could be made today. I’m not saying political activism is ruining video games, but I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m playing the next iteration of Zelda 8 years from now and I am incentivized to pick up trash around the digital world.

 

I think political activism in video games tows a very interesting line, I don’t quite see the purpose of it, most play games to deflate, release pressure valves, and sink into another world with different rules for a short period of time, not to constantly be reminded of real world problems.

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11 minutes ago, M3rkabo said:

I’ve noticed similar things happening in other games, notably CIV 6 GS as far as ideologically inspired gameplay mechanics go. We live in an interesting age, it makes me wonder if many of the games I cherished in my childhood could be made today. I’m not saying political activism is ruining video games, but I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m playing the next iteration of Zelda 8 years from now and I am incentivized to pick up trash around the digital world.

 

I think political activism in video games tows a very interesting line, I don’t quite see the purpose of it, most play games to deflate, release pressure valves, and sink into another world with different rules for a short period of time, not to constantly be reminded of real world problems.

 

Well, this is an example where a game that wants to enhance is realism is adding in political factors that actually bring out disastrous results to the health of communities. 

The WHO even listed anti-vaxxers as a health threat due to their contribution in causing the resurgence of past diseases possible: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/01/20/measles-outbreak-show-why-anti-vaxxers-made-who-10-global-health-threats-list/#5e1ede7b6c64

There's also games like papers please that drill down political oppression, terrorism and other issues into the booth of an immigration crossing station. 

Expecting all games to be free of a political bent is probably an impossible endeavor, the most enjoyable of games are those that challenge the player to question why they like certain characters who may have literal fascistic tendencies; Garithos did nothing wrong meme for example. 

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20 minutes ago, ABDeL said:

 

Well, this is an example where a game that wants to enhance is realism is adding in political factors that actually bring out disastrous results to the health of communities. 

The WHO even listed anti-vaxxers as a health threat due to their contribution in causing the resurgence of past diseases possible: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/01/20/measles-outbreak-show-why-anti-vaxxers-made-who-10-global-health-threats-list/#5e1ede7b6c64

There's also games like papers please that drill down political oppression, terrorism and other issues into the booth of an immigration crossing station. 

Expecting all games to be free of a political bent is probably an impossible endeavor, the most enjoyable of games are those that challenge the player to question why they like certain characters who may have literal fascistic tendencies; Garithos did nothing wrong meme for example. 

 

Papers Please isn't about oppression! It's about serving glorious motherland, and keeping out the spies and imperialist lackeys! Glory to Arstozka.

  • Funny 1

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26 minutes ago, ABDeL said:

 

Well, this is an example where a game that wants to enhance is realism is adding in political factors that actually bring out disastrous results to the health of communities. 

The WHO even listed anti-vaxxers as a health threat due to their contribution in causing the resurgence of past diseases possible: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/01/20/measles-outbreak-show-why-anti-vaxxers-made-who-10-global-health-threats-list/#5e1ede7b6c64

There's also games like papers please that drill down political oppression, terrorism and other issues into the booth of an immigration crossing station. 

Expecting all games to be free of a political bent is probably an impossible endeavor, the most enjoyable of games are those that challenge the player to question why they like certain characters who may have literal fascistic tendencies; Garithos did nothing wrong meme for example. 

 

I was working on an edit addressing the realism factor but my phone died. :^(

 

Yeah, but in the case of Plague INC, it’s not built to be a very realistic game. Humans trying to stop the disease is represented by a percentage bar and through gameplay mechanics by clicking/tapping the blue science globes that appear across the map. I never saw it as an incriticate and intuitively designed disease simulator. More like something I’m tooling around with when I’m waiting for the shuttle or bus. In fact, the whole game revolves around tapping all over the screen mindlessly to get EP.

 

Also, I’m not interested in realism for realism’s sake in a game that was built as a glorified IOS app. Not to mention that this feature accomplishes absolutely nothing from a gameplay perspective. I want companies to make good games, not follow ideological trends.

 

If you’re going to confront people on their beliefs in a video game, you better do a damn good job and do it purposefully. Make me think. Arbitrary number changes at the end of the game do not make me think.

 

 

EDIT: For the record, I’ve read the data and I’m all for vaccines as long as they are tested properly, and in most cases they are, you do have a few oddball cases of people contracting diseases from vaccines and dying, but other than that, they do accomplish a lot of good. I’m just interested in a fulfilling gameplay experience.

Edited by M3rkabo

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@Merkabo

 

Plague Inc is actually the only video game my wife plays. She's from a very STEM heavy background and she loves and sometimes even tutors Organic Chemistry, the bane of every Chemistry student. 4.5 average GPA taking 24 credits in college. 

 

She loves the game b/c its actually based in real science. True its on an ipad and its a game app, but so are tools that researchers use to model possible catastrophes as a way to prepare for them. 

 

@FeanorThat reminds me I need to work on ratings. 

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2 minutes ago, ABDeL said:

@Merkabo

 

Plague Inc is actually the only video game my wife plays. She's from a very STEM heavy background and she loves and sometimes even tutors Organic Chemistry, the bane of every Chemistry student. 4.5 average GPA taking 24 credits in college. 

 

She loves the game b/c its actually based in real science. True its on an ipad and its a game app, but so are tools that researchers use to model possible catastrophes as a way to prepare for them. 

 

Dont get me wrong, that game is a great number crunch for statistics guys and gals out there. But it’s the gameplay elements that allow for progression within that system I find to be not well thought out.

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Ok serious answer. In principle I'm ok with political content and mechanics in the video game. However, it's all about execution. Adding mechanics because they work and explaining them in political terms is fine. Adding politics as flavor or fluff is fine (as long as it fits with the rest of the game). The problems will begin when political content is added for it's own sake, or worst yet, against the other content, clashing with it, and detracting from the game. And the potential is definitely there.

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@Feanor I feel like there was a bit of that in the most recent Civilization 6 expansion but I suppose that’s subjective. Yeah, I have no problem with it either as long as it doesn’t directly contrast mechanics already implemented. Global warming in civ 6 feels like it was tacked on for posterity’s sake. That said though, you could say it adds an element of strategy when it comes to whether or not to settle in areas susceptible to flooding. Depends on whether or not it’s your cup of tea.

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3 hours ago, M3rkabo said:

@Feanor I feel like there was a bit of that in the most recent Civilization 6 expansion but I suppose that’s subjective. Yeah, I have no problem with it either as long as it doesn’t directly contrast mechanics already implemented. Global warming in civ 6 feels like it was tacked on for posterity’s sake. That said though, you could say it adds an element of strategy when it comes to whether or not to settle in areas susceptible to flooding. Depends on whether or not it’s your cup of tea.

 

I've played very little Civ6, and don't have the recent expansion so it's hard for me to say anything. The civ game I've played the most in recent years was Civ 4, which also has a global warming mechanic.

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@Feanor For the time being I'd recommend you disassociate from the quote button and @ people instead. Unfortunately our discord integration bot doesnt like nested quotes. 

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I mean... all that does is it makes it hard to read forums off of discord. While I like that you're trying to link the two closer together, I don't think it's that big of a deal.

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I mean global warming wasn t political 10 years ago everyone just agreed that its happening

 

what got political is whether global warming is manmade or not.

But honestly saying global warming is not happening is just being delusional all you need to do is look at average temperature 100 years ago and compare ice glaciers in antarctica and arctic 50 years ago to today.

 

 

On another note i just played a game called We. The revolution it got pretty awesome art, narration and history based story where you play a Judge just after the French revolution in Jacobin controlled Paris its similar to paper please in a fact taht you have to manage your reputation,your family members loyalty other political groups loyalties and make decisions that impact the game down the road

 

I played it till ACT II and i am already very impressed with it and would recommend

 

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Don't really see the harm or how it's particularly political. Anti-vaxxers quite literally contribute to the spread to of preventable disease so that is a factor in our modern world so it's fitting for such a game.

 

also lol anti-vaxxers: when you'd rather have a dead child than an autistic one.

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also this was added in by public poll what new feature would you like to see in plague inc by devs

and most people voted for anti vaxers being added in helping spread of diseases

 

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2 hours ago, ponasozis said:

also this was added in by public poll what new feature would you like to see in plague inc by devs

and most people voted for anti vaxers being added in helping spread of diseases

 

 

Yeah this particular example is not exactly bad. But the general concern I still think is valid. Political correctness is creeping into more and more places these days.

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