The country is ravaged with disease. Infection runs rampant. Medicines are nowhere to be found. The only valuable currency in society is food.
You're the one responsible. You're Patient Zero. You're at Sydney Airport. And you have to flee the country.
So I flew to Dubbo.
It's all part of a browser-based promotion for The Division called Collapse. It's a simple simulation that uses open source data from NASA, International Air Transport Association public flight routes and epidemic models to gauge how fast it would take for the world to become infected.
Thinking Sydney's geography would buy the world a few extra days, I used that as my starting point. I "began" feeling feverish after the first day, according to the simulation, so it gave me a choice of places for treatment.
And by treatment, it was asking, "Where would you like to infect people next?"
I like this game.
After this first week, people went from being sick to just dropping off altogether. A state of emergency is declared, and I get to choose what area I'd like to further infect. It actually says "you decide to go to the _______ to buy enough food so you can barricade yourself in", but let's be real. There's no food to be had.
For those playing along, I chose ALDI. ALDI's pretty great.
Look at all of those sterile buildings. I'll sort them out soon.
The infection didn't appear to spread that rapidly in my local area though. It changes if you pick a major metropolitan city, such as New York or Paris, though. Collapse lets you pick thousands of cities from around the world; I imagine in such a scenario, Australia's isolation would come in handy.
If the airports were shut down in time. But they're not. That's OK though, because I can escape the country for any international destination of my choosing.
I picked Dubbo.
To make things more interesting, you're given little factoids as the simulation plays out. For instance, did you know nuclear power plants can generally run for 2 days without human intervention. That's from an emergency management expert called Brian M. The game doesn't link back to the source, although it does provide other figures from more well-known organisations and bodies as the infection spreads.
After 24 days, the world came to an end thanks to you and an unknown strain of small pox.
The simulation's a little more lively if you pick a larger city: the infection spreads faster and the map is more vibrant to watch. Interestingly, it took slightly longer for the world to collapse when Patient Zero started in Paris and absconded to London, even though the total number of deaths was almost 100 million more.
If you want to play along, check it out here. It's a fun little time-waster.
Especially if you're fleeing the country for Dubbo.