Plague Inc… the game for actuaries

Plague affects South East Asia

So far I haven’t managed to kill the entire world population… but I’m getting there.

Plague Inc is a strategy game in which you “must bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global Plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself.” It’s a game that has garnered rave reviews, but also a reputation for being difficult. The basic idea is deceptively simple; you control a pathogen – a bacteria or a virus – and you can mutate it. The mutations change the way it transmits, the symptoms it creates, the incubation time and many other factors. Your aim is to infect the entire world population and have them die before a cure is found.

The graphics are pretty and all very high-level, top-down; for anyone who loves good data visualisation there are lots of different ways of seeing how your plague is doing – graphs of infectivity, severity and lethality, which any actuary who has sat in scenario discussions of Pandemics will love.

Plague species

There’s something fascinating about the way the game develops, using random transmission across borders depending on how good the land, air and sea links are, and you get the real sense it has been properly thought through to mirror a realistic situation. If it is realistic, I’m seriously considering buying real estate in Greenland or New Zealand as both seem to survive a long time.

It’s a compelling puzzle to solve just because you have no direct control over what happens, it requires some patience. If you want your disease to spread to warmer climes you need to mutate it to resist heat, but then there also has to be a vector that will take it in the right direction. And that’s not mentioning those pesky research scientists toiling to find a cure – try mutating your pathogen to induce paranoia so the scientists wont work together. There are a lot of different ways to approach winning.

Plague Inc is a great game for less than a dollar. There are a pile of in-app purchases to add bonus mutations and so on, but after a couple of days of play I haven’t yet found them necessary.

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc.


View in ITunes. AUD $0.99