We’re all going to die. That’s the general feeling right now with the Ebola scare, a sensation that was amplified when FOX News and CNN reporters bombarded my home with reporters when they discovered that I had a suspicious case of the trots and upchucks yesterday,only to find out the culprit was Ivy Bowler brand 2 minute noodles. It’s been terrifying for the world so far. But it’s been good business for cult hit game Plague Inc., which has seen sales soar as of late.
According to developer James Vaughan over at Ndemic creations, Plague Inc. has seen its numbers fly up high on the charts, thanks to its design of using a custom-tailored virus to kill the world, with most players creating their own Ebola virus and seeing how far they can get inside that simulated world.
“This is the first time something in the real world has has an effect on the sales charts, especially since Ebola came over to America,” Vaughan said to Polygon, explaining that the game could actually be used to help fight the rather real and scary epidemic.
People are curious about it and want to know more about infectious diseases. Plague Inc. can play a role because it’s an intelligent look at how infectious diseases can spread. Plague Inc. has an audience of 35 million people who have downloaded it since the game launched. I want to help in any way I can, whether that is raising funds or raising awareness. I’m currently talking to major charities to see if Plague Inc. can be used as a tool to help in some way.
Plague Inc. is also deviously difficult, as the world doesn’t sit back when you start infecting it, and depending on how visible you make your virus, there will be a resistance that usually ends in a vaccine being developed. Vaughan also added that at the moment, the game would not be updated to address the actual Ebola outbreak at this time.
“From an academic point of view the model could very easily be adapted,” Vaughan said, explaining that understanding how diseases spread could also help people understand the human side of stopping and combating the viral plague.
But at the moment it’s important to keep the focus on the outbreak and I don’t want to appear to be trivializing it by taking the outbreak and making it into a game. Plague Inc. is already able to raise awareness of the significance of the outbreak. A disease in one country affects us all. People have been talking about quarantining West Africa so we [elsewhere in the world] don’t have to be concerned about it, but that is absolutely incorrect. In out multi-connected world, a disease in one country is a threat to everybody.
This is why months ago we should have been adopting a far more coordinated approach to tackle the outbreak as a global community. Putting aside the very real humanitarian aspects of helping the people in West Africa there is the selfish aspect as well.
If you haven’t played Plague Inc., it’s a rather damn good mobile game. It’s a viral outbreak on a strategic level, and grimly satisfying when you’ve managed to create a pathogen that murders the planet. Not to mention rather educational as well.
Last Updated: October 28, 2014