+
More

A new video game lets players experience what drug companies do to turn a tidy profit.

"To succeed, you'll need to master both the engineering ... and your conscience."

What's it take to run a gazillion-dollar drug company?

Chances are, you don't know the answer to that. And it's OK because most of us don't work in C-suites. But it doesn't mean we can't offer something relevant and helpful like, for instance, basic humanity. (Don't laugh just yet.)


All images via Twice Circled.

The video game "Big Pharma" invites players to get cozy in the CEO's chair and call all the shots.

But winning the game isn't as straightforward as most games you've played.

The object of the game is to get a drug factory up and running.

You have a very clear goal: make and sell drugs. And you have a budget for buying equipment and supplies and hiring people to make those drugs. Simple, right? Well, it gets hairier.

Along the way, you're also challenged with tough ethical choices.

Like any real-life pharmaceutical company, your foremost priority is to generate a profit. As a business simulation, the game factors in market competition and even fluctuating demand, which will affect how your drugs are priced.

And as in reality, the more sophisticated your equipment, purer your ingredients, and labor-intensive your process, the more expensive are your drugs. Therein lies your first dilemma:

To cut corners or not to cut corners?

Each ingredient in your product has both desired effects (e.g., pain relief) and undesired side effects (e.g., nausea). The best possible version of a painkiller, for example, is one that does nothing more than relieve pain.

But creating the ideal painkiller requires fancier equipment, more personnel, and rarer ingredients that can end up significantly driving up your costs. So do you settle for selling a drug that relieves pain but makes patients want to barf? Your call.

The game also shows you geographically where various diseases exist and where you stand to make the most money, which raises an even larger ethical question:

Do you follow the money or do you follow the greatest need?

In an interview with Motherboard, the game's creator, Tim Wicksteed, gives an example of the sort of choice players might face:

“A cure for hair loss is a relatively small market but is highly valuable to the rich Westerners who demand it. Whereas an antimalarial drug is in very high demand but can't sustain such a high price, because most of the demand is coming from people living in poorer countries."

The key is in finding balance. But is balance truly possible?

There is a fundamental tension between the financial interests of a giant drug company and the human interests of disease sufferers. Wicksteed notes as much to Motherboard:

“People are incentivised to make decisions for the good of the company or themselves to the detriment of patients. This is very human. ... The problem with this in the pharmaceutical industry is that it can lead to human suffering, or worse, death.

It's because of this that I try to avoid overtly demonising the industry in the game, and prefer to simply place the player in a position of power and ask 'what would you do?'"

That's what sets "Big Pharma" apart from other games trying to deliver a real-world statement. We often come at complex topics like this in simplistic ways: good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. But reality isn't always so simple.

The game illustrates that companies (all institutions, really) need smart, savvy, and ethical people calling the shots when the consequences are this far-reaching. If I were a drug kingpin CEO of a pharmaceutical conglomerate, I like to think I'd do the job with honor and empathy. But like Wicksteed, it's not my job. So I'll take his cue and pass on the gazillion-dollar question:

If you were faced with a decision to honor your humanity or turn a profit, what would you do?

Check out the "Big Pharma" beta release trailer:

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Tater Tots, fresh out of the oven.

It’s hard to imagine growing up in America without Tater Tots. They are one of the most popular kiddie foods, right up there with chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. The funny thing is the only reason Tater Tots exist is that their creators needed something to do with leftover food waste.

The Tater Tot is the brainchild of two Mormon brothers, F. Nephi and Golden Grigg, who started a factory on the Oregon-Idaho border that they appropriately named Ore-Ida. The brothers started the factory in 1951 after being convinced that frozen foods were the next big thing.

According to Eater, between 1945 and 1946, Americans bought 800 million pounds of frozen food.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Relationship expert tells people to never get married unless you're willing to do 3 things

"If you and your partner (both) are unable or unwilling to do these 3 things consistently forever, you won’t make it."

Relationship expert gives people advice on getting married.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Learning someone else's quirks, boundaries, and deep views on the world can be eye-opening and hard. But usually, the happy chemicals released in our brain when we love someone can cause us to overlook things in order to keep the peace.

Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, took to Twitter to rip off people's rose-colored glasses and tell them to forego marriage. Honestly, with the divorce rate in this country being as high as it is, he probably could've stopped his tweet right there. Don't get married, the end. Many people would've probably related and not questioned the bold statement, but thankfully he followed up with three things you must be willing to do before going to the chapel.

Before going into his reasons for why he tells people not to get married, Gaddis explained that he is a person that "LOVEs being married." I mean, it would probably make him a pretty weird relationship expert if he hated relationships, so it's probably a good thing he enjoys being married. Surely his spouse appreciates his stance as well.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved

In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."

Photo by kabita Darlami on Unsplash, @DorsaAmir/Twitter

Parents, maybe give yourselves a break

For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece well intentioned, but possibly stress-inducing parenting advice.

Whether it’s the astounding amount of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.

However, developmental scientist and mom Dorsa Amir has a bit of “anti-parenting advice” that help parents worry a little less about how they’re measuring up.

First and foremost—not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Honestly, this wisdom also applies to adults who feel the need to be consistently productive…raises hand while doing taxes and listening to a podcast on personal development
Keep ReadingShow less

A guy with road rage screaming out of his car.

A psychologist who’s an expert in narcissism has released a telling video that reveals one of the red flags of the disorder, being an erratic driver.

"Most people, when they tell the story backwards of a narcissistic relationship, are able to see the red flags very clearly,” Dr. Ramani said in her video. “However, seeing them forwards isn't hard. But if you see them too late, it means you've already been through the narcissistic relationship, you're devastated and have likely wasted a lot of time."

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, Professor Emerita of Psychology at California State University and author of several books, including “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist.”

Keep ReadingShow less
www.youtube.com

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less