This is the second video game I’ve stumbled across in the past few months that used interactivity to create a visceral emotional response to a contemporary event. There’s this moment of recognition as you’re playing where everything that’s wrong with the situation becomes more real. It’s persuasive, and it’s something more often ascribed to “artistic” mediums like writing or photography than 8-bit video games — but maybe that’s about to change.
The newest is EpiPen Tycoon, which gives users a literal taste of pharmaceutical price gouging. And it feels like in a post-Martin Shkreli internet, Big Pharma memes may crystallize public sentiments against them for good (look at how healthcare costs continue to climb, as do prescription pill overdoses in America — and that’s all before you get into shady practices abroad — there’s not much to love).
The game is inspired by the real life exploits of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch who jacked up the price of the Epi-Pen, a life-saving product helping control allergic reactions. Bresch is also the daughter of a U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia (that comes into play in the game, if things get too serious), and in the game she watches the company and her compensation grow the more prices go up. In real life, they went up about 6x, but see how far you can take itand imagine all the wasted money being vacuumed from real human beings and collected by Bresch. Play EpiPen Tycoon.