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Covid Simulator aims to educate players about workplace risk

Covid Simulator is an indie game that accurately simulates the spread of covid in the workplace.
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You cannot win in Covid Simulator. All you can do is struggle on, go to work, and watch your coworkers get infected and die. According to creator coldrice, this is the point of the experimental game: to highlight ‘how quickly Covid-19 spreads, becoming a disaster’. While the sandbox nature of the Covid Simulator means you can create your own procedurally-generated workplaces and adjust them to your liking, you can never control the spread of the disease and how it’ll impact your employees.

It’s designed to be a wake-up call, particularly for employers forcing their workers into offices where the disease can spread uncontrollably, impacting personal health as well as company output.

As you go about your day-to-day in the game, you’ll be able to hire or fire employees at will, encourage ‘anti’ or ‘pro’ vax sentiment, adopt mask mandates, or change which covid variant is spreading. Every choice will impact the spread in your office, based on research from official CDC resources.

Misinformation in the office will mean less mask-wearing, lower vaccination rates, and more stress. Pro vaccine sentiment and mask mandates will help you keep your workers from dying.

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It’s a fascinating sandbox, and one that should give a clearer picture to those who misunderstand or refuse to acknowledge how workplace policy and beliefs can impact the health of individuals.

As governments and employers begin the push to ‘live with covid’ by forcing sick employees back to work too soon, Covid Simulator demonstrates how these decisions can impact people via facts-based simulation. While developer coldrice makes clear they are not a virologist, the gameplay is based on real-world results and outcomes.

Every choice in the pandemic impacts the spread of covid-19, and workplaces are particularly susceptible to outbreaks given their focus is likely on profit and sustainability over personal health.

There’s a free version of the game available to anyone who wants to try it out, and a paid version with interactive Twitch integration which lets viewers decide on workplace policy, and whether covid-19 will spread quickly. Whatever happens in your virtual workspace, it will soon become clear just how devastating the disease can be for everyone.

Going forward, coldrice hopes to expand the game and work with statisticians and virologists to increase the game’s scientific accuracy as we learn more about living with covid-19’s various strains, and managing them in shared spaces.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.