MIT STEP Lab Presents

Virus Game (PSim)

Meet as many people as possible, without getting sick!


The Virus Game challenges players to explore the spread of a disease using their mobile devices, scientific inquiry, and a playful process of experimentation. The activity starts with players out of their seats and walking around to “meet” as many other players as possible, both by meeting face-to-face and by scanning the QR codes on each other’s devices.  The rest of the activity unfolds like a mystery: some players become sick, and then everyone starts asking questions.  What happened? How did I get sick? Why didn’t you get sick?

Only the facilitator knows exactly how the disease spread, but the players also have what they need to figure out what happened:  data collected by their devices, observations from other players, and a chance to replay the game.  The role of the facilitator is to help players hear each other’s voices and come to a consensus about next steps.

In schools, the Virus Game can be a powerful addition to students’ exploration of experimental design, infectious disease, collaborative problem-solving, systems modeling, and network dynamics. Although the activity might only take one class period, students’ shared experience of the Virus Game can become an on-going point of reference.  One teacher might reference the Virus Game for studying epidemiology while another might reference it to contextualize mathematical concepts such as probability, frequency, and exponential growth.

The Virus Game is adaptable, engaging, and practical across many subject areas and learning environments – or just for fun!



The Virus Game PSim is now publicly available.  This version is a public beta.  You are free to sign up and use the game.  Right now there is a web client available, with native versions coming shortly (currently in internal beta testing).  Teachers will need a google account to sign in.  Students sign in anonymously and only need a device (preferably or a phone or tablet) running Chrome on Android or Safari on iOS.

[pdf] Getting Started

[pdf] Quick Reference

[Google Slide] Player Set-up Instructions

[link] Virus Game (at URL

link to Virus Game student client (teacher must use the website) for

iOS –

Android –

(There are also translations of the documentation in German for Getting Started and Quick Reference )

Project Specifics


Recommended for ages 10 and older

Content Area


iOS and Android mobile devices

Project Contact

psims [at] mit [dot] edu