From time to time there are games which you come across which steals your time, creates addictions and gives you curriculum ideas all at once. In the July holidays last year I was introduced to the game Plague Inc by a friend which kept me amused for an entire weekend as I systematically destroyed the world multiple times.
Fast forward a few weeks and I used this game to introduce a Year 9 unit of work on Natural Terrors; a more grown up version of the Natural Disasters project which we all did in primary school.
The game opens with needing to name the disease (there are a number of types which you have to choose from), and this was the only part of the process which they didn’t have a choice over. Having played the game before I knew what the screens would look like, so I named it after them. From this point to the end of the game (which took us a number of weeks, playing for about 10 mins every couple of days), the class made the decisions by discussion and voting.
From a SoSE point of view this game is excellent, from the initial decision from where to create the disease (the class chose India following a discussion on the different levels of healthcare, population density and the availability of sea, air and land transmission of the plague), to the discussions and decisions around what ways the disease would be developed and how we would discourage the development of a cure. There were numeracy moments when we looked at the ratios between healthy and infected people, and individual hypothesis were formed about what would happen to transmission rates following social breakdown within communities. Many of these things were placed into a real-world context when we looked at issues around healthcare in war-zones and places where conflict were occurring.
New Zealand provided a bit of entertainment. Firstly, when it was infected there was a very loud cheer from the class, and then when in the news feed there were the words “New Zealand has closed its land borders” there was a great deal of laughter.
I was reminded about this game again last night (thanks to Twitter) and I am still stuck on Prion (brutal level) 😦