While some of us are in lockdown, or voluntarily self-isolating, let’s use the opportunity to think about COVID-19 from a game development perspective.
In the above simulation, you’ll see that one randomly selected agent is infected. This agent will infect everyone that comes near them. Note that the graph peaks high, and peaks early.
Here’s what happens if we isolate approximately half of the people so that our initially infected agent is only on one side, with just a small gap for agents to get through.
Notice that the graph is flatter, there’s also a potential that you see this graph turn into a wave.
And finally, what happens if some people voluntarily self-isolate by not moving around in society. Let’s say 75% of people self-isolate but everyone else is free to move around.
Much flatter. Note that a lot more people remain uninfected than in the above simulations.
What does this have to do with Game Development?
These simulations above are interesting to look at. I bet you even have a few ideas of what other measures you could use to try and change the rate of infection and make this more interesting:
- What happens if you quarantine sick people with varying success?
- What happens if you remove sick people x-days after they are infected?
- What happens if the area is more dynamic, sized with pockets?
- What if agents follow routes between pockets that you can block/unblock?
This could be an interesting simulation. Have a map of the world, and gradually have the infected moving around at certain rates. This could be turned into an interesting game by adding in an economic bent to it.
The News into a Grand Strategy Game
There’s a few different responses that different countries have had to this pandemic. Mostly these responses have been due to economic vs health concerns. There’s no sense in surviving a pandemic if you have no economy afterwards, right?
Well, I think there could be a very interesting game in here. Players would be restricted from enacting certain measures, like closing airports, until the population was at a fear level to make this acceptable. The savvy player can use some of the governments budget to try to effect this fear, balancing the need to keep people healthy with the need to keep the economy running for as long as possible.
Throw in some conditions like panic, where your society colapses, or indifference, where your people do nothing until it’s too late, and you’ve got yourself a classic rock-paper-scissors type of mechanic. The end goal would be to survive the pandemic with the best possible economy on the other-side. Obviously, the number of dead factors into this metric.
Different countries would have different starting positions on the metrics used to represent the population and the goverments effectiveness. To keep everyone happy it’s likely required that the worldmap be randomly generated.
I think this could turn into a very educational game. If you’ve got other ideas on how to make this more interesting, drop a comment below or stop by the forums. I think there’s an opportunity that a few people work on this game during our various lockdowns and social isolation periods, and something really fun comes out of it.