People tend to study the nature of an event using already known analogies. Thus, the growing coronavirus epidemic in China has led to a sharp surge in interest in the computer game Plague Inc. In it, with the help of various viruses, bacteria and other microagents, it is necessary to bypass all the erected barriers, infect and, as a result, destroy all of humanity.
Over the past 30 days, the average daily number of players in Plague Inc on Steam has grown by 148% to 1672 people, while there are usually less than 1000. The peak number of participants set an all-time record of 17889 people (while the previous one was only 4601 players). Along the way, gamers dropped the game site several times, which was not designed for such a load.
This did not come as a surprise to the developers - they reported that they were already used to seeing such a picture every year or two, when an outbreak of another serious disease occurs in the world. Players are turning to Plague Inc. to better understand and simulate the spread of the disease using the game's rich toolbox. But the developers clarify - they deliberately left a lot of gaps and added a number of conventions so that the game remains a game, and not a stand of a scientific laboratory.
On the other hand, Plague Inc. really reveals things little known to non-specialists about how pathogens are transmitted, what determines their infectivity, the severity of the course of diseases - and how to resist it. Fortunately, the catastrophic situations that are simulated in the game are extremely unlikely to be repeated in the real world.