Video games are often about empowerment. It's about being a badass demon slayer or being the savior remind of the post-apocalyptic wastelands. It's about being the yellow dot that eats white dots that you could never eat in real life because you're lactose intolerant. For the mobile game Plague Inc., it was about being something a little more abstract and much more passively evil: an outbreak. You play as the deadly pathogen of your choice and try to kill off the human race as quickly as possible. It was a fun game back when the world wasn't gripped with fear over a real virus responsible for the deaths of thousands. To give people a little dose of the empowerment they need right now, the studio behind the game, Ndemic Creations, are getting to work on a modified play mode is a little bit more fitting for the times. Instead of being an outbreak, you're going to stop one.
It's the exact kind of simple, empowering catharsis we need right now. Video games are the perfect medium for it since presenting overly simplified solutions to complex problems is what video games do best. Simplification is where the fun is. It's a lingering remnant of their 1980s action movie inspirations. When the aliens have taken over the city, we don't need to assemble a complex coalition to come up with a viable plan, requiring enormous amounts of teamwork from folks who've put their irreconcilable differences aside to save the world. Just send in Rad Protagonist to pop their heads from 500 yards away with a plasma pistol that will be less powerful in the next game.
The real way to stem the tide of Covid-19 will take an enormous worldwide effort to not be around each other for a bit. Finding a cure will take the collective brainpower of thousands of the world's scientists, and even then, it could take a year or more. But sometimes we need the power, however impotent, to take the world from pandemic to sharing Baby Yoda memes again like we don't have bigger issues to deal with. And if we could do it in the palm of our hands while taking a shit, even better.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. And now you can listen to the first episode on Youtube!