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Disease sim Plague Inc. will add anti-vaxxers after player petition

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A petition led to deniers becoming an in-game epidemic

Florida Residents Get Vaccinated Ahead Of Flu Season Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Coming soon to the virus-spreading strategy sim Plague Inc. is a new threat to humanity: anti-vaxxers.

Should you have the luxury to never encounter one of this crusade of science deniers, a brief definition: Anti-vaxxers are people who choose not to vaccinate their kids for reasons religious, political, or otherwise misguided, generally influenced by the unproven belief that vaccines can cause autism or illnesses. (Instead, vaccines can protect and prevent outbreaks of health risks, like measles.)

Earlier this month, Plague Inc. players petitioned developer Ndemic Creations to add the anti-vaccine movement to the game, in which players work to spread different pathogens worldwide. A Change.org post demanding an anti-vaxxer update made it to the developer, which soon acquiesced.

“OK, fine!” the studio tweeted. “If this petition gets to 10k, will add a specific new anti-vaxxer scenario to Plague Inc.”

Ndemic Creations acknowledged the goal earlier this week when the petition neared 11,000 signees. (At time of writing, nearly 21,000 people have signed the petition, which simply reads, “Anti-vaxxers are stupid.”)

“Alright, alright! You spoke, we listened. Neurie’s very happy to hear that we’re going to start figuring out anti-vaxxers soon. He’s dying to try and get inside their heads,” the studio tweeted, referencing the game’s mascot.

“We’re currently working out how Anti-Vaxxers will work in the game — we have a few ideas that we’re trying out and running them through our algorithms. (The biggest challenge is that if everyone in Plague Inc.’s global simulation suddenly stopped getting vaccinated then it would be a very easy game to win!)” creator James Vaughn told Eurogamer.

No word on when or how the team will implement the anti-vaccine movement, but it sounds like a satisfyingly relevant addition to Plague Inc. — a game that brings attention to a diverse array of potential health risks, including science deniers, xenophobes, and reality TV fiends.