For volunteers on the front lines of an outbreak, disease is no game. For the rest of us, it could be.
The just released "Outbreak Responder" puts players in the position of international aid workers trying to stop the spread of malaria in Africa, letting us take a walk in their shoes -- and their scrubs.
Through 30 levels of play, the iOS game challenges players to complete tasks like managing and training volunteers, clearing mosquito pools, buying insecticide, curing the sick and accepting donations.
The game also gives actual donations. Half the profits from in-app purchases go to the non-profit Malaria No More, which provides tests and treatments to children in Africa.
The game was developed by Global Gaming Initiative, which also makes a soccer game and a bike-riding game that funnel 50 percent of profits to charities.
"Outbreak Responder" joins other games for good, such as "Free Rice," an online trivia and vocabulary game that donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme for each right answer, and FarmVille, from social gaming company Zynga, which runs in-game campaigns for various non-profits.
Most games don't attempt to simulate the experience of a crisis, though there is at least one other. "Darfur is Dying," on online game created as part of a contest help by a partnership between Reebok Human Rights Foundation, mtvU and the International Crisis Group, challenges players to protect the Sudanese refugee camp in which they live from a militia attack.
"Outbreak Responder" seeks to raise awareness and money that's urgently needed: more than 600,000 people die from malaria each year. Global Gaming Initiative said that every dollar collected from "Outbreak Responder" can save two lives through Malaria No More's treatment program.