As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, the creators of a wildly popular game about viral outbreaks issued a statement last week reminding people that, while realistic, their game is just a game.
“Please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people,” reads a statement on the company’s website.
The game, in which players must try to infect the entire world with a deadly virus, experienced a surge in popularity last week as people learned more about the severity of the new coronavirus outbreak in China.
The real-world virus outbreak also brought out the black humor in gamers. 2012's Plague Inc. -- where players evolve a pathogen to wipe out humanity -- is now China's top paid iOS game. https://t.co/JdYrVJzwZX pic.twitter.com/inJ5jGvEJ2— Zheping Huang (@pingroma) January 22, 2020
The popularity is not that big of a surprise for James Vaughan, founder of Ndemic Creations, and creator of the game. Ndemic Creations has seen similar patterns before. “[W]henever there is an outbreak of disease we see an increase in players, as people seek to find out more about how diseases spread and to understand the complexities of viral outbreaks,” the statement says.
Plague Inc. is currently available as both a video game and as a board game. Vaughan created the first version of the game eight years ago in his spare time, and tried to make the game as realistic as possible. In 2013, he was invited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give a talk about how games like Plague Inc. can help engage the public.
Ndemic Creations urges players concerned about the coronavirus to check the World Health Organization’s website for the latest information.