So, here’s a fun (if a little grim) viral advertising site. You are patient zero carrying an unknown new strain of smallpox virus, and you’re feeling feverish. Enter in your home address and see what happens.
That’s the start of an “end of society” simulator set up to promote Tom Clancy’s latest disaster-porn project, Tom Clancy’s Division: Collapse. Now, I shouldn’t get all high-and-mighty, because I have to admit to a certain weakness for disaster porn, and the threat of epidemics lurks in the back of one’s mind, and the simulator is interesting as far as it goes.
However, I have to call bullfeathers in certain respects, because the choices it offers you are basically useless. No matter what choice you make, civilization collapses in chaos and blackout in roughly 27 days. The options that you have to change the future are limited. There’s no “I stay away from congested areas because I’m not a dimwit” choice isn’t among them. And if you put in an address that doesn’t meet some sort of criteria powered by Google Maps, the simulator won’t play.
Try it: enter a street address from Nome, Alaska. Or Dease Lake, British Columbia. Or Iqaluit, Nunavut. The simulator just won’t start. What’s more interesting is if you choose some out-of-the-way place that passes the site’s muster, which doesn’t have a hospital right nearby. Then, instead of “Oh! You suddenly feel feverish! Which hospital do you go to?”, the simulator goes “You feel intense pain and pass out, and the paramedics haul you to (significantly more populated urban center).”
As you happen to be a Typhoid Mary, you end up released from hospital and are able to go off to infect a pharmacy while trying to get a “flu shot” and then you’re encouraged to board a plane. This is when the death toll kicks into high gear, as the simulator makes the point that our interconnected world is pure gold to the aspiring apocalyptic virus. Again, however the, “I stay indoors and refrain from contacting anybody because (again) I am not a dimwit” option isn’t available, but I did get a chuckle when I tried to infect myself in Fort Nelson, BC, got hauled off to Edmonton, Alberta, and then decided to high-tail it to Fort McMurray.
By about day ten, I’d managed to keep my infectious-death-count down to a couple thousand, but the simulator made an odd split-second jump upping the death count from three thousand to three million. Bzzt! I’m sorry, guys! I’m calling broken simulator, here. I found a way to get around your predetermined outcome, and you decided not to let me have my fun.
As viral campaigns go, this has its points, but very little thought appears to have gone into this simulator other than to provide the “Oh, how horrible!” outcome every single time. So much for using the “real world” here. Nice job, guys, leading your users along by the nose.