Dawn of the Zombie Outbreak Simulator

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.
By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2010-01-08 Email Print this article Print

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One of the common things that computers are used for is statistical simulations. All around the world computers are being used to simulate everything from weather patterns to commuter traffic.

So I was glad to see that technology was being put to use to simulate another important area of research, namely, a zombie apocalypse.

The Zombie Outbreak Simulator is a simple Flash application that lets one simulate zombies overrunning a neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The simulator, created by Binary Space Games, is a simple Web application that uses small moving icons of civilians, police and, of course, crazed zombies to show the potential outcomes of a zombie infestation.

As a huge fan of the whole zombie genre, from the movies to the games to the books, the Zombie Outbreak Simulator has provided me with hours of enjoyment.

One of the best parts of the Zombie Outbreak Simulator is the ability to customize different aspects of the zombie outbreak, from numbers of civilians and how well-armed they are to the rate of zombie infection to the speed of the zombies themselves. Once these options are configured, you just sit back and watch a wave of zombies overrun the District.

Depending on the options chosen, a zombie outbreak can be fairly quick or take some time. For example, a classic Night of the Living Dead outbreak (well-armed populace, moderate rate of infection, really slow zombies) took over 40 minutes until the zombies took control. On the other side of the spectrum, a 28 Days Later-style apocalypse (poorly armed civilians, quick infection rate and very fast zombies--sorry, infecteds) had my map awash in zombies in about 16 minutes.

Since it isn't really a game requiring attention, it was easy to open the Zombie Outbreak Simulator in a browser window, do other stuff on my computer, and occasionally check back to see how the zombie apocalypse was progressing. A small corner map provided a big picture of the neighborhood being affected and let me zoom into specific neighborhoods to watch the zombies invade while tiny blue police and green civilians did their best to stem the zombie tide.

Of course, like most free things on the Web, the Zombie Outbreak Simulator is awash in fairly annoying ads and is basically a teaser for something else (in this case a fully playable zombie game that Binary Space Games is working on).

But I think any fan of zombie movies and games will get a kick out of the Zombie Outbreak Simulator.

And remember, doing statistical simulations is good for your brain.

Mmmmm. Brraaiiinns.

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