Everyone seems to be talking about and planning for the H1N1 virus these days. My university, for example, sent out a memo to encourage us to plan for extended absences due to the virus as we plan our classes for the fall semester. Now we can all participate in world-wide planning for the potential pandemic, thanks to a group of researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They have created a new Flash game called The Great Flu that allows the player to try to stop the spread of a virus. The consequences of the player’s actions can be surprising, as when I isolated victims of the virus in China and Japan which caused “chaos”. This game is an example of a serious game, that is, a game with a serious purpose such as education or advocacy. There are so many examples of serious games that the category constitutes a subfield of game studies with organizations and conferences dedicated to it. Don’t let the name of the category fool you, though. Serious games can be fun too. The Great Flu is pretty good and I learned quite a bit about public policy implementation for virus containment. Who would have thought swine flu could be fun? Give the game a try here. The game also contains quite a bit of humor. At some point, as the deaths from the flu rose in Central and North America, one of the global events that occurred was that “No Virus” t-shirts began to be sold. That sounds about right. 🙂
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.