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"We're Facing a Catastrophe" and Someone Should Really Make a Game About It

Humanity is facing a pretty terrifying problem, and it would make a fantastic game. Hear me out.

Hit the power button, fire up a game, and enter a new world. In this game, diseases are rampaging unchecked through the population, and the old ways of healing are hopelessly ineffective.

"We're facing a catastrophe."

 - Dr. Helen Boucher, spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Those who have already fallen ill are terrified to seek treatment, as hospitals and doctors' offices are some of the areas most likely to transmit new super-bugs. The healthy struggle to identify and avoid threats to their well being, often (unknowingly) making the problem worse. Leaders attempt to discover the reason why suddenly the tactics that used to keep their populations safe are now failing. 

This isn't a game

It's the (admittedly dramatized) summary of the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighting the growing number of treatment resistant germs.

"If we're not careful, the medicine chest will be empty..."

- Tom Frieden, CDC Director

But despite firm footings in real life research, this could have been a solid setup for a Resident Evil game - if the outcomes of the illnesses were becoming undead and not... well... dead.

But it should be, and it should be awesome

There's no excuse for not using games to enhance social awareness and solve problems. But the games have to be good, or it won't work.

There's no excuse for not using games to enhance social awareness, and  plenty of developers have tried to tackle social problems with mixed success.

There are two critical factors:

  • Good gameplay is a must, or it won't be widely adopted no matter how critical the subject matter.
  • Your plot is only as strong as your cause. Fiction or not, selecting a core concept that's a touch alarming and potentially impacts everyone is a good way to get a wider audience engaged.  

This one nails both. The gameplay seems to naturally fit a mix of several games that already have massive followings. The issue of disease meets the criteria for a compelling plot line. The potential to increase public knowledge of the threat of drug resistant germs is a huge payoff.

Dear talented game designer, please take on the growing threat posed by disease resistant bacteria. Create the lovechild of Civilization 5 and RE, then call it an extremely entertaining and subtly educational day.

What other issues should be games?

Is there an issue that you think could (and should) be made into a great game? Share your idea!

Published Sep. 17th 2013
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