Mon, May 11, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Swine flu game: sneeze to win 新流感遊戲:努力打噴嚏

US President Barack Obama sneezes during a press conference at the end of the G20 Summit at the Excel Centre in London, on April 2, 2009.


You have only one sneeze. Use it wisely. Yes, it’s “Stop Swine Flu,” the video game.

The action starts with a splosh of green mucus hitting your screen, then switches to a street somewhere. Your avatar stands among pedestrians. The background noises are coughs, sneezes, noses being blown. Choose your moment, then tap the space bar to sneeze. Everyone hit by your spray turns green, then sneezes in turn, infecting others. How many are infected determines whether you go to the next level, which could be a train station, a factory floor or a nursery school.

Infecting a child is five points; an elderly person is 15. “I sort of like it, but I think it’s really warped,” said an eight-year-old who noticed the game on Sunday when it reached the Top 10 on his favorite free children’s game site,

“Stop Swine Flu” — which probably ought to be called “Spread Swine Flu” — is actually a new name for a game released this year as “Sneeze,” before the possibility of pandemic flu dominated the news. And “Sneeze” was created with the best of intentions: to subversively teach young people healthy habits. It was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, the world’s second largest charity after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We did it to engage the older teen audience and teach them that where you sneeze matters,” said Daniel Glaser, the trust’s chief of special projects. “All the science is embedded in a contest that will look familiar to the YouTube generation.”

The game does drop hints that it longs to be pedagogical. Each new level offers a germ fact: more than 100 viruses cause colds, colds cost $25 billion a year in lost productivity and so on.

LEARN IT! 學習小站

1. sneeze v.

打噴嚏 (da3 pen1 ti4)

2. pedestrian n.

行人 (xing2 ren2)

3. infect v.

傳染 (chuan2 ran3)

4. habit n.

習慣 (xi2 guan4)

5. audience n.

愛好者 (ai4 hao4 zhe3)

But still — points for infecting toddlers? Isn’t that the product of a ... well, of a sick mind?

“It’s no sicker than Ring Around the Rosy, which is alleged to date from the time of the plague,” Glaser retorted. “People have always caught virus and died. I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about it.” (NEW YORK TIMES)









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