The developer of Plague Inc. will add anti-vaxxers to the game after an online petition went viral.
Plague Inc. is a 2012 real-time strategy simulation game that sees the player create and evolve a pathogen as they try to destroy the world with a deadly plague.
An online petition to add anti-vaxxers as a buff to Plague Inc. caught developer Ndemic Creations' eye, and the developer tweeted to say if the petition got 10,000 signatures, it would add a specific anti-vaxxer scenario to the game.
Ok, fine! :P If this petition gets to 10k, will add a specific new anti-vaxxer scenario to Plague Inc. https://t.co/DJjmRFpOMa— Plague Inc. / Rebel Inc. (@NdemicCreations) February 24, 2019
The petition shot through that target - and now sits on an impressive 20,000 signatures and rising. So, Ndemic Creations is making good on its promise.
Alright, alright! You spoke, we listened. Neurie's very happy to hear that we're going to start figuring out anti-vaxxers soon. He's dying to try and get inside their heads. https://t.co/fYq09awgJc pic.twitter.com/Sof0aJE0yw— Plague Inc. / Rebel Inc. (@NdemicCreations) February 26, 2019
James Vaughan, the creator of Plague Inc., told Eurogamer the team is currently working out how anti-vaxxers will work in the game, but expressed delight that its community was alive and kicking so long after launch.
"It's great to see so many people sticking up for science!" Vaughan said.
"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!)
"On a side note, it's amazing that six years after the game was released there is still such a huge and passionate community for Plague Inc. It means a lot to us and it makes it a lot of fun to keep working on new updates!"
Anti-vaxxers hit the headlines recently after the US suffered a measles outbreak that affected at least 64 people in Washington State. According to a report by the Associated Press, of the 63 cases confirmed in Clark County, 55 were not immunised against measles (immunisation status couldn't be verified for six cases, and two cases involved a child who had received only a single dose of the MMR vaccine).
Vaughan stressed the importance of vaccinations worldwide, and said if Plague Inc. can help people understand that, "then it will be worth it."
"Disease is (one of) the big threats that humanity as a whole faces," Vaughan said. "There are enough concerning trends (e.g. antibiotic resistance) without us also making it easier for horrific diseases of the past to come back. People take our modern healthcare for granted and it's almost impossible for anyone to imagine what the world would be like if everyone routinely got measles. If adding something to the game helps some people understand the importance of vaccinations then it will be worth it."