Ideas for improving the Epidemic Game Maker

In preparing for our part of the exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition we are developing an Epidemic Game Maker (http://modelling4all.nsms.ox.ac.uk/Resources/Composer/en/sse.html). The idea is to provide an overly simple easy game where the player is a public health authority trying to deal with an epidemic. Rather than rely upon the full power of the BehaviourComposer specialised buttons are added that automate several possible enhancement to the game. Visitors will be challenged to make a better game by choosing what to change and add.

On 8 March I showed the Epidemic Game Maker to Professor Angela Mclean who made many suggestions for improving it.

  1. Local vs non-local schools (before adults are added to the model if students go to their local school then one infection will not reach beyond one school but if students go to any school in the town they all get infected).
  2. Could add a button to add contact with neighbours.
  3. The button for adding work places could add the adults at the same time
  4. When schools are closed then a button could control whether ┬áthe students visit each other’s house.
  5. Could have ‘manual’ school closing (by clicking the school).
  6. Could have a gauge that shows the supply of government money that runs out as actions are taken
  7. The Epidemic Game Maker page could have links to guides and libraries for those who want to go further
  8. The web version could have more features than the exhibit — e.g. a 2-player version where one player designs the virus and the other combats it as a public health authority.

Angela offered to help make the parameters realistic but we both thought that game play should have priority over matching a particular virus. Hopefully we can enable visitors to make good playable games that are based on real data.

Angela liked Howard’s idea of having a suggestion box for visitors to add to the list of ideas for improving the game/model. We can promise to add the best ideas to the web site version.

Several people at the Royal Society exhibitor communication skills workshop liked the idea of League Tables of scores for the game.

The plan is to have an ‘almost finished’ version by the end of April.

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