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Video footage depicting a short plot of one video game called Pandemic has gone viral on Facebook. The publication includes a description from the author which reviews the idea of the game. As claimed by the author of the publication, Microsoft released this Xbox game on 1 August 2019 and it was done in order to deceive the public. The author of the publication gives the impression that the aforementioned video game is a devised plan vis-à-vis the ongoing pandemic. The publication was reposted in the following groups: Corona Mafia and Georgia as a Country for Experiments and Corona Mafia.

This conspiracy theory - that the pandemic was planned in advance - has been actively promoted since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The purveyors of such claims name those video games, movies or simulations which have a pandemic-like plot. One such game in Pandemic. It is a board game, designed by Meth Leacock, which was first released by Z-Man Games in the United State in 2008. The plot of the game is as follows: four diseases are spread in the world which threatens the infection areas with extinction. There are two to four players in the game and they select one out of seven possible roles (medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, dispatcher, contingency planner and quarantine specialist). The aim of the game is to find cures for each of those four diseases. Meth Leacock started to design the game in 2004 and it was based on the premise of the SARS virus outbreak in 2002-2004. In 2019, the board game was transformed into a video game and became available on Xbox one, a Microsoft video game consol.

The publication of the Facebook user and its interpretation is aimed to manipulate the reader. Similarly, if we apply the conspiratorial interpretation, we can say that the movie Contagion is also one of prediction since the virus-induced pandemic is spread across the world by a bat as the initial cause. Therefore, claiming that the coronavirus is a pandemic which was long planned in advance, solely based on the interpretation of movies or games, is absurd. Similar to the aforementioned video game, conspiracy theories were also promoted about Event 201 which was held in New York on 18 October 2019. According to the information published on the official website of the Centre for Health Security, the event was a series of simulated, scenario-based discussions which aimed to increase the awareness and the preparedness of the decision-makers to tackle potential global challenges and world crises.

The Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, in response to the question of whether or not this simulation was a prediction of the current pandemic, explicitly stated that they indeed modeled a fictional pandemic, although it was not a prediction.

Therefore, there is always a chance to see real life events in video games, movies or simulations. The manipulative explanation of such simulations, games or movies aims to mislead the people.

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This article was produced as part of Facebook’s Fact-checking Programme. Given the rating, Facebook may impose different restrictions – click here for full information. For information on issuing a correction or to dispute a rating, please see here.


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