Plague Inc Shows Eerie Reality of COVID-19 Spread in a Video Game

Plague Inc. is a smartphone game that was developed back in 2012. It is a simulator game on how you can control a plague and end the world.

The game has seen a spike in the number of downloads recently due to its nature of the gameplay and how it is reminiscent of what’s currently happening in the world with the coronavirus pandemic.

We played the game on an Android smartphone and could not help but notice that a lot of the games’ features correspond to what is happening with the whole COVID-19 situation globally.

Disclaimer: The images in the story are screenshots from the game Plague Inc. and have been used for representational purposes.

How To Play Plague Inc?

In this game you play the bad guy – the Plague.

The game requires the player to engineer a strain of the virus and then help it evolve so that it can spread all over the globe to effect the demise of humanity.

A grim premise yet strategically a compelling game to explore.

In order to start the gameplay you must select a country to begin the infection from. Once the virus is released, you will receive ‘DNA’ from the area which you have to collect in order to make your virus stronger.

As the game progresses you’ll see the infection move from one country to the other.

There is a live tracker at the bottom of the screen to show you how your virus is performing.

The objective of the game is to make a virus strong enough to spread throughout the world and wipe the population out.

You will lose the game if the computer is able to create a cure before your global infection is complete.

Gameplay Features Similar to COVID-19 Scenario

From news headlines to the pattern of the spread, some of the scenarios are uncannily similar to what’s happening today with COVID-19.

You keep getting notifications on how the virus is spreading and what effects it’s having on countries.

For example, when the virus starts spreading in one country, the health department issues an alert for people to ‘start washing hands using soap.’

There is also a News section in the game which keeps flashing headlines from around the globe of how the virus is spreading and how it’s disrupting operations around the world.

You have to follow these news updates as they hold prompts and clues on how you need to proceed to make the virus more potent.

There is a News section in the game that keeps feeding the players Headlines from around the world.

Notifications like "Air Traffic Suspended" and "More Infectious than TB" keep popping up as the virus wreaks havoc.

You can see a live simulation of the entire game as the virus spreads. The infected areas are marked in red. You can also see how flights and ships are moving from one country to another.

You can also track how fast the cure is being manufactured in real time. 

If you want to try the game you can download it here.

How to Win the Game?

As sad as it might sound, the only way to win is to kill all the people. The more potent your virus becomes the more lives it will claim.

You have to collect ‘DNA’ points from various parts of the world to make your virus stronger and resilient against vaccines and anti-viruses. How strong the virus is depends on its ‘Infectivity’, ‘Severity’, and ‘Lethality’.

You need to be smart in choosing the right ability, symptom or method of transmission in order to make the virus stronger.

The more “DNA” points you gather the more options you get to make the virus stronger.

There are options like ‘Heat Resistance’, ‘Airborne’, and ‘Spread through Rats’ that you can choose from. Any wrong choices and your virus will not have a strong effect which gives the computer an advantage to create the cure faster.

If the cure is created before you can kill the entire population you lose the game.

If you are able to create a virus strong enough to withstand the test of time and vaccines it will keep infecting the population and eliminate everyone. And that's it, you win!

On the other hand, if the cure reaches 100 percent completion the game is over and you lose.

You get detailed statistics on how you performed during the game.

As you can see, my virus wasn’t strong enough to end the world population. I clearly need more practice.

Developer’s Take

I am sure James Vaughan, the developer of the game, wouldn’t have expected his game would hit the top of the charts at the same time he’s trying to survive a pandemic himself.

Speaking to Vice, James said that the game “helps players understand our current situation and gives them an element of control during a very scary and worrying time.”

"“The game is very effective at helping players understand the terrifying power of exponential growth and also shows some of the mechanisms that global governments have to stop a pandemic.”   " - James Vaughan to Vice

The game’s developers, Ndemic Games, announced that it would be working on an update that would add a new game mode where players are fighting against a virus rather than spreading it.

It has also donated $250,000 (Rs 1.86 crores approx) towards fighting COVID-19.

. Read more on Tech News by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsCreate Action Plan for Limited Resumption of Shoots: Thackeray . Read more on Tech News by The Quint.