Plague Inc. is a game where you customize a virus with the goal of infecting as many people as possible. In the past few weeks that conceit has flashed over from dark humor into something profoundly uncomfortable. Developers at Ndemic Creations appear to appreciate that, and are taking steps to add a very different mode to the game. In a news release published on Monday, they also said they have made a sizeable donation to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Eight years ago, I never imagined the real world would come to resemble a game of Plague Inc. or that so many players would be using Plague Inc. to help them get through an actual pandemic,” said James Vaughan, creator of the game.
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The game is experiencing a spate of popularity, alongside flims like Pandemic on Netflix. But that has raised some eyebrows internationally. For instance, it was recently banned by state censors in China. In light of recent events, Monday’s news release said that the developer voluntarily made a $250,000 donation, which was split between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Oraganization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“We are proud to be able to help support the vital work of the WHO and CEPI as they work towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19,” Vaughan continued.
The news release went on to say that work on the new game mode is being accelerated in response to fan requests, and with the help of experts at the WHO. It will flip the script, and require that players work to mitigate the spread of a pandemic disease while simultaneously boosting healthcare systems. Other mechanics will involve “controlling real-world actions such as triaging, quarantining, social distancing and closed public services.”
The new mode update will be made available for free. Plague Inc. is currently available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC platforms via Steam. There’s also a board game version (not to be confused with the classic Pandemic).
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