THR is reporting that Dutch researchers have taken a break from their important clog, tulip and dike research to develop a video game that teaches people about Swine Flu.

“It is actually what is happening now, what is happening in the real world,” said Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center, who designed “The Great Flu” game with colleagues.

The game can only be played online and it is free. A World Health Organization spokesman said Monday the agency was not familiar with the game and had not had time to play it.

The game itself is so boring that within minutes I was hoping that I myself might catch the dreaded H1N1 virus and be put out of my misery. I did not stick around long enough to actually find the vaccine… I guess that means everyone died. oops.

A running tally of the numbers of people infected and those who have died sit above the budget. Newspaper stories about the deadly virus and the global response to it — like riots breaking out worldwide — pop up to help players monitor the outbreak.

Messages from governments mirror the difficulties faced by international agencies like WHO. For instance, when players set up costly surveillance systems, the game often relays a message from governments that “we will comply with your directions…but we must inform you that the political support for this action is low in this region. Therefore, the effectiveness of the system may differ from your expectations.”

Got some time and a few million people to kill? Check out the game at