In response to a fan petition, and in an effort to raise awareness about a crucial public health issue, the creators of disease sim Plague Inc. will add a new mechanics where anti-vaccination campaigns make your diseases stronger.
In Plague Inc. you create, modify and mutate a chosen disease with the ultimate goal of wiping out humanity. There are multiple classes of disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. The game also included themed addons like a Zombie mode and a brain-controlling parasite. Players used these diseases in custom scenarios to roleplay different realistic and fictional scenarios.
Players bizarrely wanted one particular mechanic fleshed out within the game itself. That mechanic being anti-vaccination movements. Players started an online petition to have the change happen. The developers pledged to make it so if 10,000 signatures landed on said petition.
Anti-vaccination movements have been growing in unfortunate popularity over the last several years. Born out of disastrous combination of scientific ignorance, fear of the unknown and internet-fueled paranoia, these set os beliefs are probably one of the more unfortunate consequences of the rise of the internet age. And it’s easy to see the impact this asinine movement has. Previously irradiated diseases like Measles, Mumps and Rubella have made a come back in recent years because of this. Hundreds of children and families have been put at risk.
In 2012 there were 2,016 cases of measles in the UK. In the first six months of 2013 there were a further 1,287 cases of measles; 257 of these people were admitted to hospital, including 39 with serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis and gastroenteritis, and one young man died of measles complications. From 2013 to 2015, there were 1,015 cases of MMR in the United States. Previously, domestic-borne cases of the disease had been reduced to 0 by the year 2000.
Inoculation has been around for a long time in the real world, Smallpox inoculations were recorded as early as the 10th century in China. These were previously in Plague Inc. as a simple gameplay mechanic that was purely thematic. The development and proliferation of cures within the game was facilitated by vaccines.
And now, we know the outcome of this whole mess for Plague Inc. After the petition reached its goal, the developer soon returned to Twitter. Ndemic is now in the process of figuring out how to add the buff to the game.
The creator of Plague Inc., James Vaughan, spoke with Eurogamer about the petition. He expressed gratitude to the community for being so passionate about the game so long after it’s initial release.
“It’s great to see so many people sticking up for science!” Vaughan told Eurogamer. “We’re currently working out how Anti-Vaxxers will work in the game – we have a few ideas that we’re trying out and running them through our algorithms. (The biggest challenge is that if everyone in Plague Inc.’s global simulation suddenly stopped getting vaccinated then it would be a very easy game to win!)