Virulent Is An Infectiously Engaging Simulation | Audio Review # 126


Virulent is an iTunes app simulation of virus behavior that incorporates gamification elements to engage students from grades 4-12 in exploring the microscopic world. The player becomes the “mind” of the viral invader, seeking to combat the defenses of the host in order to not only survive, but to thrive. The graphics are crisp, with a dark, red/black theme. The audio is of a monotone female voice, with the overall effect being Borg-like. We are the Collective. Resistance is futile. Yes, the game is engaging, and has potential to teach the player by involving the player in the life cycle functions of the virus. I learned about B-Cells, and how important they are to my continued health. Go B-Cells!


No major concerns. The teacher who employs this app should build in checks for understanding to ensure that students are learning the lessons available. Also, in imbuing the simulation with human choice, voice, and volition, it is easy for students to subconsciously conclude that that non-intelligent organisms have “thought” and “mind.” It is important for teachers to explain that the simulation creates a “will” for the virus in order to make the simulation engaging to us. We become the virus’s will. The mindless nature of biological processes should be emphasized in review of the learning from the simulation.

Sample Uses

This simulation has clear application in cellular biology units. Teacher should build checks for understanding, and one way to do that is to allow the students to play the simulation for homework, then have the students guide the teacher during the first 15 minutes of class the next day. The teacher could play ignorant of the various cells and cell functions, in this way drawing out from the students their understandings. In this way the simulation can have a number of levels of interaction.

Do I plan to use it?

I certainly am alerting my Science colleagues to this simulation’s existence. Also, because my school teachers a special course od diseases, I will pass the information to teachers of this course as well.

Commitment and Learning Curve

Medium. Set up is easy. Just follow the link and download to the Apple device. The play of the simulation takes time. This game play should probably take place at home.

Best for ES MS or HS?




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About miles.mei

Technology Multimedia Specialist

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