The latest outbreak of swine flu that is the H1N1 virus that has killed almost 1,800 people and infected more than 180,000 people worlwide gets its own game. The game is titled: ” The Great flu”.
“If the money is well invested, the pandemic can be stopped,” said Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Centre, who is credited as the game’s scientific editor.
“The game is very realistic and has an educational value,” he told AFP. “It informs people how the virus spreads, what the flu is and on the ways to fight the pandemic.”
The game, which was dreamed up before the current outbreak seized the headlines, was originally designed for Dutch teenagers, said Michael Bas, who helped design it and is the head of Ranj Serious Games, which markets it.
Put online at the beginning of 2009, www.thegreatflu.com was attracting more than 1,000 visitors a day, with peaks of up to 40,000, he said.
Deborah MacKenzie, a consultant, writing on the New Scientist website, said she found that the game was flawed because it was unclear what effect the action that players took had on the virus.
“But if the current swine flu pandemic gets bad and schools close in the fall, there are going to be a lot of teenagers sitting at home with not much to do, and with luck this could breed up a generation of officials that does understand,” she added.