This blog is nothing if not topical, so I spent some time today looking at The Great Flu, a free, browser-based game designed to introduce players to the nature of viral epidemics and means of controlling them.
The game offers players the choice of five levels of flu severity (game difficulty), a €2 billion budget and a range of actions of varying effectiveness, such as sending researchers to afflicted areas, distribution of facemasks, stockpiling vaccines and antivirals, and closing schools, airports and public markets. Taking various actions triggers various pieces of supporting material such as mocked-up news coverage and messages from governments or regional authorities. The game also provides interesting information on the nature and spread of earlier flu pandemics.
Even at what is supposed to be the hardest level, the game is very fast to complete and very easy to ‘win’ (it took more effort to infect large parts of Europe for the screengrab above), but while it doesn’t offer much gaming challenge it is a very useful and quite fun resource for understanding the topic.
Via New Scientist.