Virus Diary: In pandemic, seeking solace in virtual worlds

It’s 2014, and you’re relaxing with your best friend in a pastel-hued Florida condo the day after Thanksgiving. She’s checking Facebook and you’re on your iPad, playing a video game called Plague, Inc.

“You try to kill the entire world with a virus or a fungus,” you explain. “I mutated my virus to be more contagious. It’s now spreading in Europe.”

She shoots you a horrified look. You show her the screen and turn up the volume to an ominous musical score with people coughing in the background. You both laugh.

“Can you imagine?” she says.

You snort and take a sip of wine. “This could never happen in real life.”

IT’S APRIL OF 2020 and everything’s overwhelming. You want to claw your way out of your skin. You binged Tiger King, canned 40 pounds of tomatoes and are sick of Zoom calls. Animal Crossing could be just the diversion you need.

At first you’re captivated by the game on your Nintendo Switch. It’s a salve for your soul, with the happy animals and pretty, tropical settings. You snicker when Isabelle, a canine secretary, announces there’s no breaking news on your island.

“I miss the

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