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Pandemic: Wasting Time With Deadly Viruses*

Written By mista sense on Friday, March 30, 2007 | 9:33 AM

I found this cool little browser game yesterday. My first impression was "this is boring. What's the point?" I then proceeded to dump, like, three hours into it.

It's a game that simulates the evolution of a lethal virus from a commutable germ into a worldwide, lethal pandemic. You have 200 days to kill the human population before they find a cure for you. Each day, your infection spreads and the death toll begins to mount. Easy, right?

Not so much. You've got to stay one step ahead of those pesky humans-- for one thing, if you kill too many people too fast, worldwide panic will shut down international airports-- and your chance to spread to other continents. Success depends on how cleverly you're able to evolve your virus.With each passing day as more bodies hit the floor, you earn points that you can allocate to add or remove various attributes of your little germ, affecting traits like infectivity, lethality and visibility. A more lethal virus will decimate humanity faster, but a visible, gruesome epidemic is likely to drive resilient Mankind to figure out a cure. Accrue enough points and trick them by ditching the coughing, sneezing and sweating symptoms and going invisible-- causing immunodeficiency and organ failure instead-- but then, you'll be less contagious without all those bodily fluids in the air. Unless you've gotten into the water supply.

The game is ridiculously simple and seems tedious at first glance, but it's more challenging than it sounds, and there are an infinite number of ways that you can wipe out the world population. Pandemic is a perfect way to spend a cynical afternoon.

*(I think, technically, it's "virii," but that sounds stupid.)

(UPDATE: It's not "virii". I'm right! Thanks, Phalligator)

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