Going Viral: The Cards Explained

Below each card is a description of the real biological and virological science that inspired it. Read through to better understand viruses.

This page is still under construction!
In the body ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is the “energy currency” of the body. The body uses ATP to power reactions.

In the game ATP is the currency you need to “purchase” the next stage. Viruses use the energy and pieces of the cells they infect to replicate and grow.
In Biology rabies is a zoonotic virus transmitted through an animal bite. Rabies may take months to present symptoms. The “vaccine” is administered immediately after a suspicious bite to eliminate the virus.

In the game the Rabies Vaccine is a specific treatment for lyssavirus. Treatment causes the loss of your highest ATP card.
In Biology TamiFlu is a drug that helps target the proteins that help the virus bud out of an infected cell. It is only typically used for “at risk” populations as many people can fight the flu with just their immune system.

In the game TamiFlu is a specific treatment for Influenza virus. Treatment causes the loss of your highest ATP card.
In Biology not all viruses have vaccines. However, many of the most dangerous viruses are combatted by viruses (measles, mumps, rubella, influenza). Smallpox, a deadly virus disease, was eradicated (it no longer exists) thanks to vaccines.

In the game the “No Vaccine” card helps viruses but giving them ATP and letting the virus draw again.
In Biology Anti-retroviral drugs were discovered in the 1990s specifically to combat the HIV epidemic. This drugs target an action that only retroviruses use (and no other viruses). Modern HIV drugs are potent antiretrovirals.

In the game antiretroviral drugs are specific the specific treatment for retrovirus. Treatment causes the loss of your highest ATP card.
In biology Hospital Intervention is a very general treatment for many conditions including severe influenza, COVID-19, and non-infectious diseases too. However, it is the only treatment effective against the ebola virus (with hydration).

In the game hospital intervention is a specific the specific treatment for filovirus. Treatment causes the loss of your highest ATP card.
In biology Acetaminophen is a common drug (sold as Tylenol) used for MANY symptoms, including fever. While Zika virus is famous for causing neurological problems in the embryos of pregnant mothers, most cases will take Tylenol and try to beat the fever.

In the game acetaminophen is the specific the specific treatment for flavivirus. Treatment causes the loss of your highest ATP card.
In biology there is not single drug that can effectively treat all viruses. However, there are many types of Anti-viral drugs that are better or worse at treating specific types of viruses.

In the game antiviral drugs cause the virus player to lose their hand – antiviral drugs are bad for a viruses success.
In your body, your immune system can signal to start a Fever. This means your body temperature will rise.
Viruses can’t survive high body temperatures, so a fever will help your body get rid of its infection.

In the game, the fever card sends the virus back one stage. While viruses in the body don’t actually go “backwards” ever, fevers can break down the molecules that make up a virus, and even kill some of the infected cells.
In biology Resistance is an “adaptation” or something that living things develop over generations to help them survive. If a mutant virus gains resistance it will be more successful by becoming unaffected by treatment, and all the copies that virus makes will do better and become a dominant strain.

In the game resistance also protects the virus from a treatment, preserving the players highest ATP card, and causing the player who played a treatment to basically waste a turn.

(Card design coming)

In medicine antibacterial drugs called antibiotics are commonly prescribed for infections. However, they are specific to bacteria (affect parts of the bacterial cell) and have no effect on viruses. However, sometimes people with viral infections are prescribed antibiotics to fight secondary infections (if you have influenza AND get a bacterial lung infection that could be bad!)

In the game antibiotics don’t treat the virus. If you treat a virus with antibiotics you are giving the virus time to grow and thrive, so players draw 2 more cards!

Gene Exchange
(Card design coming)

In biology genes are the pieces of DNA code that contain instructions for proteins that living things use for specific actions. Scientists observe that microbes might exchange genes – saving valuable time in evolution – making diseases stronger. In biology viruses would never exchange ATP, but might actually make copies of their DNA and share them.

In the game the gene exchange card is an opportunity to take a chance and swap a card of your choosing with another player. Not all exchanges benefit microbes, and you don’t know if it will help or hurt your game play either!

Stage 1 – Viruses have proteins on their surface that help them target specific cells in the body.
Stage 2 – Once a virus attaches to the surface of a target cell they either cut, melt, or sneak their way inside.
Stage 3 – Inside a host cell, viruses go to the genetic material and take over. The cell no longer makes transcripts of its own genes but of the virus’ instead.
Stage 4 – As cells make transcripts of viral genes they in turn produce viral proteins. These proteins have to be put together with new viral DNA to make millions of new viral particles!
Stage 5 – Once the viruses are all assembled they are ready to leave the host cell and infect a whole bunch of new cells. This happens over and over in a viral infection, but just once in our game!