Fake News Is The Latest Disease in ‘Plague Inc.’
With the UK election rapidly approaching on December 12, Plague Inc. developer Ndemic Creations has teamed up with fact-checking charity Full Facts to add a new kind of disease to its game: fake news.
In this game, you're usually evolving a virus to spread across the globe and kill as many people as possible. But the Fake News scenario sees you spreading political rumours and conspiracy.
"Just like a deadly pandemic, the spread of misinformation is a huge threat to our society," Plague Inc. creator James Vaughan says in the news post announcing the release. "When designing this new update for Plague Inc., it was scary how many of our infection algorithms translated perfectly to the world of false facts, fake news and bad information. Full Fact are a hugely powerful resource that everyone should use to make sure they really know what is going on."
It's a fascinating tool for showing the way a political lie can be passed around the world and embed itself in the public consciousness faster than it can be dispelled.
"Full Fact exists to fight the causes and consequences of bad information," chief executive of Full Fact, Will Moy, writes in the same post. "We know from experience the harm it can do to lives and communities, whether undermining trust in our democracy or putting our health at risk."
It's interesting seeing Plague Inc. twist its systems depicting viruses spreading to illustrate the way fake news can be disseminated. Especially as it feels almost like a reversal of what happened in World of Warcraft back in 2005. In that case, players attempting the final raid boss of Zul'Gurub, Hakkar the Soulflayer, an enemy who hit them with an infectious health-draining spell called Corrupted Blood, found they could spread that spell to players outside of the raid. The spell was never supposed to leave the raid, and so there were no defences to stop players from spreading the virus far and wide. Players deliberately and accidentally spread it all over Azeroth, where it killed off low-level players. The event, which became known as the 'Corrupted Blood incident', has since been studied by epidemiologists as an example of how people respond to a virus and mapping how these things can spread.
The Fake News scenario in Plague Inc. is a free update that's available to everyone playing on iOS at the moment, and it will soon spread to players on all the other platforms.
Featured Image Credit: Ndemic Creations