Those folks at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly enjoy having some creative educational fun. This was the agency, after all, that developed the Zombie Preparedness kit, a way of teaching the public about disaster planning that included a graphic novel.
Its latest offbeat offering is an online game something like the old Oregon Trail computer game that kids played decades ago. In memory of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the CDC has developed the “1918 Pandemic Trail Game,” which tests players on their ability to avoid catching the flu that killed 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, according to the History Channel.
The game isn’t exactly up to the standards of virtual reality; the graphics and choices are truly reminiscent of the early computer games for kids. It also can be played only on desktop or laptop, not on mobile devices. Players choose to be one of three characters who live near a fort where there’s been a flu outbreak. They must navigate their way through a series of choices about how they will live their day, to have the best chance of surviving.
The most important aspect of the game, though, is what it’s missing. One choice people didn’t have back in 1918 was the flu shot, the best method for avoiding the flu.
So play the game, survive the day, and then show off your very best survival skills by getting your flu shot if you haven’t already.