Exterminate the Humans!

I am what some would consider a video game “noob” – I have almost no knowledge of video games outside of Mario Kart and Need for Speed back during my Gamecube days. While delving into the subject of “serious games” I realized that I do not have a very good perspective on what constitutes a serious game because I’m not even used to playing fun video games. Just from an outside perspective I would consider Call of Duty to be a serious game but from reading further about serious games I think that that would actually be classified as a game played for fun. However, I got some insight into this world in Bryan Ochalla’s “Who Says Video Games Have to be Fun?” It seems as if serious games are in a development phase right now and somewhat controversial because of their inherent quality of pushing specific agendas. This seems quite funny to me in the context of this class because we have talked a lot lately about Nick Bostrom’s theory in which we are all just simulations in a matrix controlled by more advanced beings. If this were the case, then these serious games would be simulations within a simulation trying to affect a computer-simulated mind. I think Nick Bostrom would get quite a kick out of this theory as it relates to serous games.the-matrix

I downloaded the game Plague Inc. to get some more experience with serious games. From my time spent playing, I have gathered that the objective of the game is to create a plague starting in a certain country that spreads globally, infecting and killing as much of the population as possible. In the meantime, countries are trying to make and distribute a cure to stop the disease. I played three times total, each game taking about ten minutes and spread my disease starting in West Africa, Columbia, and Mexico. Unfortunately, the disease was eradicated each time before I could destroy the world. After I lost the first two times I decided to cheat and look up tips on where to start on the Internet and found this article,  “Best Places to Start Your Plague,” and decided Mexico fit my criteria perfectly. Alas I was still thwarted. For the purpose of writing this blog post I was on the lookout for any kind of agenda that was being pushed, but I did not notice anything political or controversial leaking out from playing the game. Mostly I think the purpose of the game is to bring awareness to how quickly diseases can spread globally, no matter the point of origin. It also shows how large gatherings of people or natural disasters can affect the spread and nature of the disease. The only weird thing I found from playing was to be rooting for the extermination of the world – I found myself staring at the world death toll multiple times and saying to myself, “Seriously? Only 10,000?” I can say this is not exactly my normal way of thinking. I would consider this game to be effective in that it is educational and can semi-accurately show how a disease spreads across the world. I would not say that I enjoyed it very much but I suppose that is not the point after all!

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