Filipinos are now given the opportunity to solve the coronavirus pandemic on their own through a locally-made video game where mass testing is the key to managing the virtual public health crisis.
Cebu-based game programmer Khail Campos Santia came up with a PC-web simulation game called “In the Time of Pandemia” which allows players to be at the forefront of crisis management and at the same time, promote the observance of health protocols.
The game was created by a team of two artists, three composers and a mathematical epidemiologist who is the founder of UP Mindanao’s Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling Lab that provides science-based advice to policy-makers.
Santia in an interview with GMA News Online said that there were also a “bunch of play testers that includes medical professionals” who helped in developing the game as well.
The game allows players to solve the COVID-19 pandemic in their community by acting as a crisis manager and ending the public health crisis through five actions: Buying test kits, mass testing, isolation, enforcement of lockdown and treatment.
The World Health Organization believes that the best way to slow down the advance of the virus is to conduct massive testing initiatives in order to isolate those who are infected and prevent further transmission.
“You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease,” WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference before.
Santia said that the player of the game has to achieve three intertwined goals which are to “minimize deaths,” “keep down the incidence rate” and “spend public funds as efficiently as possible.”
Simulating poor vs. good observance of masking, eye protection, social distancing, and handwashing in the game "In the Time of Pandemia" (newgrounds.com/portal/view/761595).
The game debuted in an American online entertainment website as the number one ranked game of the day and took the third spot in games and animation.
Santia shared that they thought of developing such a game “to address the lack of a fully interactive simulation in the public discourse on COVID-19.”
“We believe this is crucial because deep interaction can engage and teach people in ways that complement other media. Games are among the dominant media many of our youth pay attention to,” he said in a release.
“Although young people are generally not an at-risk demographic, they can become silent spreaders to vulnerable members of their communities,” Santia added.
He mentioned that as community quarantine measures begin to loosen, it is “timely” for people, especially younger members of the community, to be reminded about observing health and safety protocols.
“As we open up restrictions towards the new normal, it’s as timely as ever for this kind of game-based communication as it’s designed to help promote observance of health protocols, increase public understanding of pandemic management, and gather additional assistance for desperate communities,” Santia said.
Another game, “Pandemic,” was also reported to gain traction this year despite it being released in 2008.
“Pandemic” is a board game created by Matt Leacock who thought of developing the game after the severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS epidemic in 2003, according to The Conversation.
— Featured video from Khail Santos via YouTube