Tragedy often gives way to opportunity in unimaginable conditions. As officials and experts are trying to control the global spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, which has left thousands dead, it has given an opportunity to gamers to come up with games around virus, disease and ways and means to combat them.
For instance, there is Plague Inc., which is a strategy game and has shot through the roof in Apple Store charts in China, the United States, and elsewhere as coronavirus fears have escalated. It was launched by U.K.-based studio Ndemic Creations in 2012, the game, of which there are a handful of variants. It asks players to take the part of a pathogen, and then assist it taking out the entire human existence.
“Games are a type of cultural expression — they’re part of how we make sense of the world,” said Carly A. Kocurek, a cultural historian at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “For some people, horror films are a way to deal with anxiety, and games can be, too.”
Now, this is not a novel concept – outbreak-themed video games have been doing the rounds for decades now. According to Marco Accordi Rickards, who is the founder and head of the first Italian museum of video games, one of the earliest examples was Agent USA. It was rolled out in 1984 and deals with the spread of a plague that robs people of their will.
“We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalizing serious real-world issues,” Plague Inc said in a statement.
Since, this is not a new concept and since Plague Inc have been around long enough to understand to see interest peaks when such an outbreak takes place, they could well have timed the game to tap in.