Outbreak: the Game is part of the Serious Games Initiative. This Outbreak requires players to respond to the apandemic like the Avian Flu virus and its impact. The game’s website has more information: http://www.outbreakthegame.com/
The game is still in development but, like many serious games, it already raises interesting questions about gaming. For instance, the game implicitly argues that a game-format simulation of a possible epidemic will promote awareness, promote strategic thinking about disease transmittal and prevention, and would promote thinking about responses. These are all quality goals; however, as pandemics like Avian Flu leave the news broadcasts and as the game continues in development, I wonder about the efficacy of building a game–given the development timespan–to address these issues.
The timespan I refer to is not the timespan for the game’s relevance–after all, what this game promises could be used to model epidemics or localized outbreaks of particular diseases like STDs–but the timespan for the game to actually be released. The two primary (only?) developers are students, and this is a master’s project for one of them, so how will the project continue once the students move on to new projects? I think quality projects like Outbreak require some sort of built-in support. Perhaps an Open Source or school initiative that archives the old projects for future use, or perhaps the pairing of writing students and developer students so that the writing students can provide documentation on the project so that new developers (students or not) can then build off of past work.
Overall, Outbreak looks like a great project and I’d like to see a working game. I’d also like to see a method in place for building off of past work instead of possibly losing quality work after students move on to new projects.
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