I read an interesting interview with the creator of this game concerning, inter alia, the problems inherent in any game involved with 'real time.' Apparently, 'Virtual Villagers' was intended to be the sort of game one could ignore for a fair amount of time without fear of catastrophe, but players would return to find corpses littering the ground of their Village, in the same way I did.
Since then, I have discovered a certain rhythm to the game. Apparently, a 'random event' will occur at least once in a 24 hour period. It can be positive or negative, and may or may not involve a response or choice on the part of the player. A child may be washed up on the shore, rather like Moses in the basket, or a terrible tidal wave can deposit more debris on the beach, after your villagers had succeeded in clearing the shore of debris. Every 24 hours or so, villagers randomly will become ill. If you ignore the game for more than a day, the sick villagers may die.
Although the game is rather realistic in some respects, the age limit for pregnancy is rather high. I was able to induce pregnancy in a woman of 54 years, although by rights, having repopulated the tribe, she should have been able to enjoy a brief 'golden age' in peace. Nonetheless, as she remained the only adult woman, I thought it politic to use her as breeding material despite her years.
Most of the 'upgrades' must be purchased with 'tech points' obtained by having your villagers involved in 'research'. At the same time, one must make certain that there are people working on farming and building projects for the village's survival.
When you purchase Level 2 Spirituality, you no longer have to see skeletons in your Village Square. My poor 'breeder' woman died when I attempted to impregnate her one final time at the age of 56. I waited for her to come out of the breeding hut in vain. Suddenly I was appalled by the sight of her 'decomposing body' in the Square.
This time, though, it was different from the initial mass death scene. I was able to guide her daughter to the graveyard. She then walked to her mother's corpse, took the skeleton gently in her arms and proceeded to carry it to the graveyard. The entire village became involved. It was rather touching! Flowers bloom where formerly it was nothing more than a barren field.
It is a good little game, once one has some idea how to keep things running smoothly. It is not as challenging as 'Lost in Blue' or 'Harvest Moon' but it does not require as much energy or concentration either.