My informant, AW, is my 15-year-old brother. He is heavily involved in multiple online gaming communities that exist on Discord and other social platforms. This piece was collected during an informal interview at home when I asked him to share something unique to the gaming community. He has heard about this conspiracy theory from many friends and in various internet forums. I refer to myself as SW in the text.
AW: “There is a huge conspiracy theory going around about corona, and, relating to game called Resident Evil. And um, in that game it is basically a post – well not post but the apocalypse just happened, and um, you’re trying to stay alive and find whatever vaccine you can find, try to get out of that city or something but the entire city has turned to zombies, basically. And you and maybe one other person are still alive. But um, anyway the logo for the Chinese government is like a, or whatever Chinese… the logo for the Chinese… I don’t remember what it is exactly but it’s a… something that had to do with China and covid, and the logo for that uh, lab or brand or whatever it is, is like an umbrella. And it’s blue and white striped in the middle. The logo inside the game for the Umbrella Corporation which is the people who manufactured the vaccine, is that exact same logo just red and white. And people were saying that like… the Chinese whatever it was is the Umbrella Corporation and manufactured the vaccine and they’re gonna turn a bunch of people into zombies and stuff. And there was also, there was another thing that proved that theory, or conspiracy theory, that I don’t remember… But… I think it was like the logo and… I can’t remember but something else related it back to that same company. But that, a lot of people had fun conspirarizing – conspiring.
SW: Did people actually believe it? Or was it like a…
AW: “Oh there was definitely people who actually believe it. But it was mainly, it mainly just started out as a joke and a ‘hey this is a funny coincidence!’ and then there’s the people who take it a step too far like ‘oh my gosh I actually believe this.’ So that was fun.”
SW: “Where did it start? Did it start like, within the games or did it start on discord or reddit or where did it come from?
AW: “I think it originated off of reddit.”
SW: “Most conspiracy theories come from reddit.”
AW: “Yeah. It was probably off the ResE reddit – Resident Evil reddit. But it… it spread everywhere. Like if you knew what Resident Evil was you know about that.”
The covid-19 pandemic started millions of conspiracy theories that spread like wildfire online. I think this is because many people are looking for any source to blame for the pandemic, and would much rather unite against a known common enemy than try to fight an invisible virus. As AW mentioned, this particular theory mostly started as a joke based on a coincidence, but as it spread further it began to become an actual belief. This shows how exposure and stories from friends make you more likely to believe something, even if you normally wouldn’t. It’s interesting that it spread to basically everyone who knew about the game, showing how compelling folklore becomes part of the formal culture it is attached to or based on.