Virtual pandemics: gamers have already experienced them

Virtual pandemics: gamers have already experienced them
The videogame medium is ever closer to real life thanks to characteristics that have developed exponentially in recent years. First of all, the concept of online gaming and virtual sociality, born in the 90s on the PC in a primordial way and today exploded through integrated social networks and online role-playing video games. Then, of course, the ever increasing graphic processing capacity allowed previously unthinkable simulations, with the consequence that many real or plausible experiences were transported in a very convincing way in digital transpositions. The global news events of what will go down in history as one of the most unfortunate years ever, this stormy 2020, are making the gaming community reflect a lot. Not only because, pushed to remain closed at home, the time spent in front of the TV has grown considerably, but above all because many have associated the recent Covid-19 pandemic with situations already experienced in the past in various video games. Let's find out which ones!

World of Warcraft: "corrupted blood"

If there is a typical feature common to all gamers it is certainly that of adaptation. Years spent living virtual experiences of all kinds have shaped us by making us live disasters, pandemics and emergency situations of the most varied gravity. One of the most incredible stories is that of World of Warcraft and the "Corrupted Blood" pandemic that broke out due to a bug in 2005. It all originated from the attacks of the boss Hakkar that caused constant damage to the vitality of the players, transmitted from character to character . All of this was to remain tied to his quest but inadvertently the effects of his attack spread beyond the boundaries imagined by programmers. After a few days, most of the entire World of Warcraft map had been infected, and with it many players who for the occasion were even studied by a team from the University of Boston and New Jersey.

The reactions to the virtual pandemic (later returned with a big "reset" of the game) were very realistic contemplating "deniers" users who happily went around infecting other players, other "provident" who disconnected the connection for fear of irreparable damage to their virtual alter-ego, asymptomatic patients like many NPCs who had no symptoms but were able to transmit the "corrupted blood". A story that has taught a lot to many, in short.

Epidemiologist and professor Eric Lofgren, interviewed by PC Gamer, made very interesting statements stating that: "When people react to health emergencies, those reactions really shape the course of things. This (Covid- 19, Ed) is a virus that is spreading among people and the way people interact, behave and conform to authority figures, well, these are all very important factors for its development "

One of the most curious aspects that have been studied certainly concerns the post-pandemic. Once the game was stabilized and returned to normal, the gamer population was divided between those who directly accused Blizzard of mishandling the bug, complaining about a consistent loss of hours of play, and on the other hand those who appreciated the total reset of the title to return to a life (albeit virtual) as normal as possible.

The Last of Us and the similarities with the recent global pandemic

We cannot fail to mention the masterpiece of The Last of Us thinking about how, perhaps most of all, it was able to simulate a global pandemic. The story of this video game has a fund of scientific truth, too. It seems that the initial idea of ​​its development was born watching an episode of Planet Earth of the British national broadcaster BBC, during which ants were shown infected with the fungus called Cordycpes, then actually "used" also in the plot of the game. The authors wondered what would have happened if this fungus had infected humans instead of an insect, trying to imagine the social and political implications of a global disease. In the game, in fact, the military tries to contain the dangerous spread of the fungus through a long quarantine, fiercely opposed by an organized group called "The lights".

Many similarities can be seen with what happened in the game and the current pandemic situation, starting with the extensive quarantine that the whole world has ended up in, a right that we took for granted as the freedom we have been denied, but also the revenge of nature on man and on the cities, for once abandoned to themselves.

Plague Inc., a success that returns cyclically like viruses

It was the most downloaded and searched simulator in Italy at the beginning of the pandemic, in March. And as the developers confirm, whenever somewhere in the world such a misfortune happens, their title is back to being played more than ever. We are obviously talking about the "phenomenon" Plague Inc. which allows the player to simulate a real epidemic on a global scale with the aim of annihilating humanity. "It shouldn't be that funny," headlines a quote on the English producer's page. Plague Inc. uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithm specially compiled for the game that recreates the situation of the outbreak of an epidemic and its consequent enlargement in the world passing from one country to another.

The game counts on 12 different diseases and more than fifty countries of the world where they can spread, through more or less prudent strategies in a sort of "risk" of viruses whose goal is to conquer the world. Since it was released in 2012, the game has always been among the best sellers in the various digital stores, with a success that does not tend to subside (especially in 2020).

The Division and the defeat of humanity

Certainly the history of video games is full of viral pandemics, diseases that spread very quickly, very dangerous viruses such as Resident's "T" Evil (perhaps one of the most famous), but today the thought immediately turns to The Division of Ubisoft which has been very successful thanks to its multiplayer sector and a very compelling story. The smallpox pandemic that took place in the game originates precisely during the days of the so-called Black Friday, a time of year when Americans (but now a bit of everyone) flock to large shopping malls for wild shopping. The shopping center, moreover already treated by Romero and his "Zombies", seems to act as an incubator of the worst anguish of modern civilization. Symbol of consumerism without restraints or morality, modern place of perdition of souls devoted to "God" money and its squandering, it is the ideal place to symbolize the loss of humanity and its defeat in the world.

Set in New York, in the game we find many references to the worst pandemic scenarios: a highly contaminated red zone to stay away from (called the Dark Zone), a society on the verge of losing control with survivors hunting for food and water, militarization of cities and a special team tasked with finding out what caused the terrible virus to spread. Surreal scenes and considered until recently at the edge of science fiction. Today, however, they are at least disturbing.

Powered by Blogger.