The game saw a surge of popularity after the coronavirus outbreak in China was made public
The alert for the Wuhan coronavirus does not cease as the cases continue to increase, although in some ways it is “one more flu”. The concern makes us want to be constantly looking for information on social networks, websites and even video games, and that is what is happening with ‘Plague Inc.’ since the outbreak began.
It is a real-time strategy game in which the player’s goal is to create a plague with a pathogenic organism to end humanity. The “problem” is that it was designed to be realistic and informative about viruses and infectious diseases, and many users have taken it to the letter, too.
The game ‘Plague Inc.’ It was developed by Ndemic Creations and originally released for iOS on May 26, 2012, later arriving on Android and even Windows Phone.
On its website, we can see all versions, including a remake for computers and consoles (‘Plague Inc. Evolved’), as well as the trailer, which explains that the goal of the player is to create a pathogen with which to end the humanity through it.
Its creators wanted it to be as realistic as possible and even informative. In fact, even the CDC (Center for Disease Control) was interested in the non-traditional tool level title that could make epidemiology reach the public, that is, how Outbreaks arise and develop and how the disease is transmitted.
And it was all this curriculum that, without any initial intention of causing sensationalism, caused the flood of downloads.
According to App Annie data , ‘Plague Inc.’ it was the most downloaded app in China on January 21 and in the United States on January 23, just the days we began to know about the virulence and lethality of the “mysterious Wuhan virus” i.e Corona Virus .
This coincides with what was detected by Sensor Tower, seeing that on January 22 there was a very high rise compared to the previous days until 21.
The downloads have had such a peak that the developers themselves have had to pronounce themselves , since they have also begun to receive numerous questions about Wuhan’s coronavirus.
They explain from Ndemic that every time there has been an outbreak of a disease they have seen an increase in players, probably in an attempt to seek information about the pathogen and its virality, for example during the Ebola outbreak.
They clarify that the game was designed to be “realistic and informative, but not sensational with real-world events” and please remember that “Plague Inc.” is a game and not a scientific model “, having to perform extra maintenance due to the increase in traffic to the website.
In turn, they also took the opportunity to remind the audience about truthful sources of information such as the CDC itself and the WHO.
Perhaps part of that peak of downloads is due to curiosity or for mere fun, but the amount of questions that developers have received implies that there is a concern and that this has motivated the use of the game.
But the message to remember is that of Ndemic: a game, however realistic, is not a source of information.