Plague, the new app for Apple and Android devices, is an enjoyably addictive way to learn about epidemiology and, if you’re on a roll, completely destroy mankind.
To play, you choose a type of pathogen, such as a virus, bacterium or parasite, and a country to launch your epidemic. To win, you must learn how to balance transmission rates with the severity and lethality of your disease. As in the real world, scientists begin to work on a cure once the disease becomes a recognizable threat.
The app was developed for $5,000 by 25-year-old James Vaughan and several free-lancers. Launched in May 2012, Plague quickly became a global hit. To date, over 100 million games have been played. At HAI we don’t often root for the pathogen, but we’re glad for any tool that teaches about the complex interactions necessary to spread (and stop) HIV.