This essay analyzes the 2007 board game Pandemic in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The essay explores the connections between the reality of Pandemic and the play of COVID-19. To do this, it uses Ian Bogost’s interpretation of systems (both real and imagined) to invite a dialectic of reality and game simulation. The interaction of such systems, in a game whose theme became real, highlights a major tenet of game studies—the borders between reality and games are thin, blurred, and mobile, if they exist at all. Games, in their simulation of the real, are mimetic, and, in turn, reality has become gamified. The essay examines the board game and highlights its mechanics, which include cooperation and mitigation of risk. It also explores how the game and reality blur their borders in this instance of play, inviting further study into the ramifications of simulated games and the fantasy of the real.

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