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- Plague Inc.
Fans of the popular strategy sim Plague Inc. have successfully lobbied for a specific anti-vaxxer scenario to be added to the game. The game’s developers Ndemic Creations issued fans a lighthearted challenge to collect 10,000 signatures on an official petition and, under the condition that they do so, an anti-vaxxer scenario would be added into the game in a future update.
It being 2019 on the internet, the petition, of course, reached double its goal in just over a week and now Ndemic has taken to Twitter to acknowledge the overwhelming fan response. Ndemic playfully accepted the request, stating that they are looking forward to figuring out how exactly the game will have the anti-vaxxer scenario incorporated into it. While Plague Inc. already features a scenario built around a “Science Denial” situation, this latest update will allow the developer to experiment with a very specific kind of denial.
Ndemic is no stranger to real-world medical issues as it has previously used the game and platform to spread awareness about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.
ICYMI: 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/qxnNQGIV1b
— Plague Inc. / Rebel Inc. (@NdemicCreations) February 26, 2019
The petition was first posted to Change.org last week and has since reached a whopping 20,239 signatures at the time of reporting. While most petitions posted to the site feature extensive arguments as to why you should sign it, Eduard Gabrian’s page simply reads “Anti-vaxxers are stupid.” The most recent update from Gabrian on the page simply directs users to subscribe to PewDiePie’s YouTube channel, a choice which some might consider as harmful to children as the movement the page is meant to mock.
The anti-vaxx crowd has caused quite a stir over the recent years. This anti-science, anti-intellectual movement, through misinformation and fear mongering, has helped spread eradicated threats to particularly vulnerable. Just last week, a French boy brought measles to Costa Rica right after the country had gone five years free of the ailment. The World Health Organization has even stated that anti-vaxx movements has led to a global resurgence of measles.
However, some are fighting back. YouTube is starting to demonetize harmful anti-vaxx channels. Facebook is thinking about doing something similar. Two Canadian schools even stopped 33 kids from coming to class until they could prove they had their vaccinations. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey refused to sign bills that would lead to few vaccinations.
And while a video game is just a video game, Plague Inc.‘s attitude toward showing the destructive, regressive thinking behind anti-vaxx movements could be a step in the right direction for ensuring that people understand the importance of vaccines. The National Institutes of Health, National Academy of Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and World Health Organization all deem vaccination safe and encourage it. A Pew study from 2014 also showed that 86 percent of scientists in the American Association for the Advancement of Science think all children should have mandatory vaccinations.