What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Plague Inc. is a simulation game in which players attempt to decimate the earth's population by creating a constantly evolving super-virus that is transmitted around the globe, first causing people to get sick, then killing them. The game takes a top-down view of this, with no blood or gore (aside from a skull icon next to the death totals). The theme, though, is likely to be too intense for younger players.
What kids can learn
- life cycle
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- developing novel solutions
- making new creations
Engagement, Approach, Support
Much of the gameplay is watching and waiting, though the information, concept, and graphics are scarily fascinating.
Plague Inc. uses statistics, distribution lines, and disease characteristics to teach a spectrum of social concepts. However, what's learned here doesn't transfer well to real life: Who wants to start a plague?
Data is extensive, and play is amazingly intuitive considering the complexity. Scoreboards and achievements help players track their progress.
What's it about?
Players try to create a disease that evolves and strengthens quietly, spreading from country to country infecting, then killing, all humans. That evolution takes place by slowly strengthening the virus, fungus, or bio-weapon, adding symptoms and giving it defenses against cold, water, and the like. Players get points to upgrade their virus by "popping" bubbles that appear on screen as the virus spreads. Once doctors become aware of the problem, they'll work on a vaccine; then it becomes a race to kill the human race before there's a cure.
Is it any good?
Like Pandemic 2.5, Plague Inc. is based loosely on a popular web-based Flash game. Unlike that game, though, this version better explains the concept and lets people play at a skill level of their choosing. The game is still fairly passive, but the inclusion of DNA points to adapt the disease (and popable bubbles giving DNA point bonuses) keeps people's attention focused on the screen.
You won't get an adrenaline rush playing this game, but you will find yourself eager to try again once it ends. And you'll likely find yourself cursing those borderland officials in Madagascar at some point if you play for any length of time.
Families can talk about...
Help teens find information on historical events in which disease played a significant role, such as the plague.
Ask teens to think about the scenarios in Plague Inc. Could something like that happen in real life? If so, how could it be prevented?