THIS PAGE - To-do[edit | edit source]

  • Actively being rewritten by LucasG, in June 2023. Help & visibility appreciated!
  • See also Aerosol pandemic/H5N1BadSoonScenario which updates the challenge. But also remember we're not necessarily catastrophists (= people who predict) but more catastrophologists (= people who want to know what to do if/when catastrophe hits, and what to do now that will help later). This is important because anxiety doesn't help, but sustained clever cooperative effort may help.
  • Change text from 2019 to 2023: we know more about masks, and one priority for the game would be to look at Aerosol pandemic/Needs and Systems, and UV. Also, population is now ~8k million. And we know global institutions are really nation-state in scope so no real worldwide mandate. We are it?
  • See how to contact gamers. Particularly Jane McGonigal's Institute for the Future, if that's what it's called. Any help appreciated!
  • Add links to twitter elifarley work using chatgpt etc. These could be tools used by gamers to assist them to think both broadly & deeply, and then collect information, maybe work on models to see how effective the interventions would be, etc. I imagine a "game engine" is a challenge in itself but we need to start with a working prototype, no?
  • Improve page:
    • Bring ideas from "discussion" page to (this) "page".
    • Bring links from "talk" to "main". Add links to twitter Fla_medic posts that explain mutations, reassortment, etc. Also to pages within appropedia: both inside Aerosol_pandemic and maybe others... like My Ideal Panflu, air filters...
    • Reformat "main" and rewrite as smooth text.
    • Convert to medium post for future reference?
    • Share on twitter for comments.
    • See what's next.

WHY: pandemic flu challenges[edit | edit source]

Pandemic influenza (sometimes called "panflu") is considered one of the most difficult global threats.

One of the difficulties is how to work together. The World Health Organisation (WHO) appeals to member states because it's an aggregate of them (and also to other entities). But other than through recommendations and paper plans, and the repetition of "we're not ready", there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for global, deep, fast, effective cooperation, of the kind that is needed both for preparation and response. (Please prove this admittedly bold assertion wrong.)

Maybe taking it as a game would provide some useful insights?

Let's say the world population is in the order of 7000 times a million people. What if each gamer, or team, looks at "their million" and makes sure they are able to do:

  • NPI (non pharmaceutical interventions, such as timely and effective school closure, etc) and
  • supplies of vital goods and services (such as described in which btw has a specific panflu proposal for your evaluation - in written in ~2010) (Note: goods and services are much about NPI for those who carry them out, but it's not just that.)

We win if, and only if, more and more of us, and eventually all humans, win. So the game starts with personal and family actions, then neighbourhood, etc, until eventually you find yourself contributing to international efforts. But of course some people might want to start at the international (local) level first?

What's the goal?

  • Say the virus starts off with really nasty fangs: "I can kill 5% of those I infect, and I can infect 30% of you all". (1% and 20% might be "bad enough". These figures are used because the biology says it's possible, and for clarity. It must look like the threat it is.)
  • "Oh, and btw", continues the virus, "I will kill both directly (flu) and indirectly (disruption of essential (vital, needed to stay alive) goods and services. Say, trade of stuff needed to make insulin or antibiotics... Or food, etc."
  • Faced with these "twin threats", say we then collectively decide "hey, no, less than 0.5% and less than 10%, and we'll lower disruption to a tenth of what it could be", and then help each other do just that. Is that, to use Jane McGonigal's book "Reality is broken" phrase, epic enough?

Our current, immediate challenge is, of course, to design that game. And so it begins...

WHAT: the game[edit | edit source]

Gamers will want to learn a bit, or a lot, about flu and flu pandemics (add links from twitter Fla_medic):

  • A very mild flu pandemic would look like normal flu, but with a new virus. New means it emerges, either by mutation (think writing a phone number incorrectly, so you read 123 and write 128) from a virus that's adapted to animals, or by genetic swapping between two different viruses (say you start with numbers 1-8 of hearts, same of spades, and out comes 1-8 of a mix of colours). Because it's new, we pay lots of attention. But if it's not specially deadly, it behaves more or less like normal winter flu.
  • Now, if it's 10, 100, 500 times more deadly than normal winter flu, or it kills young and previously healthy people, then all of us change our behaviour. We want to reduce the number of infections. That's our very natural reaction: the more deadly it is, the more interested we all are in not catching it.

Gamers will need to learn about what experts believe works to slow down flu epidemics:

  • With flu, nothing works perfectly, so we'd use many "tools" at the same time. Think raincoats with holes, so we use several raincoats, hoping the holes will be in different places, so we'll stay drier.
  • If it's extremely deadly, some would say "Let's just all stay at home". But then nothing works and people die from something else: no food, no help if you're having a baby, etc.

Gamers will also be challenged, at some levels of the game, with "vital supplies and services":

  • In short, we need to find ways to keep vital things (goods and services) moving while we keep infections to a minimum. That's tricky, and that's why we need your help. Officials have provided guidance, but no-one is really sure how things would work in practice. They need help from volunteers, from society, from people who will put their minds to imagining things beforehand, and come up with ways of doing things that actually help.
  • Two approaches have been tried: stock up so you don't have to go out (1% of the population of a few countries are able and willing to do that?). And tell businesses to plan and prepare (but we don't know when it's coming so why tie up resources that make us less viable as businesses?).

So, you see, tricky. You are needed.

HOW: game design[edit | edit source]

Sample run of the game[edit | edit source]

  • Checked world population, estimated for the beginning of year 2018. It's 7600 million of us! 8k million in 2023.
  • Googled for "random number between 1 and 7600". In the future this would be a menu option, but this was good enough. I got 4984, a number like any other. I looked in (where the total is less than 7600 million, btw) and left the sorted list with the most populated first. Added numbers from the top until I got to a close enough numbers... Got Germany, which I found disappointing because it's too similar to the countries I know. So I also noticed that the countries above and below were Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Because I've been looking at these things for years, I decided to epically take all 3 countries under my extremely powerful wing. Also, just to test how things would go. I don't speak any of the languages!
  • Below is what I've found about each country. Initial research: population and age structure, what do they grow and eat, how many people circulate inside and outside the country, number and sizes of schools and healthcare centres, and existence of public health structures and pandemic plans. Just learning this is going to qualify as epic, I think.
  • If you want to help, either go to one of these three countries, or select your own. You can invite friends (or students?) to participate in the Flu Quest?

Vietnam[edit | edit source]

  • population and age structure
  • what do they grow and eat
  • how many people circulate inside and outside the country
  • number and sizes of schools and healthcare centres
  • existence of public health structures and pandemic plans
  • makerspaces and other "fun & maybe useful" facts

Germany[edit | edit source]

  • population and age structure
  • what do they grow and eat
  • how many people circulate inside and outside the country
  • number and sizes of schools and healthcare centres
  • existence of public health structures and pandemic plans
  • makerspaces and other "fun & maybe useful" facts

Democratic Republic of the Congo[edit | edit source]

  • population and age structure
  • what do they grow and eat
  • how many people circulate inside and outside the country
  • number and sizes of schools and healthcare centres
  • existence of public health structures and pandemic plans
  • makerspaces and other "fun & maybe useful" facts

Requirements[edit | edit source]

Needs to be energising. "Now or never" kind of thing. Spanish flu started 100 years ago, in 1918, and killed the same number of people, if not more, than WW1. Today, it would kill 90-250 million people. See this!

Variety of participants: why set limits to this? Maybe 10 million gamers would be a good number.

All must get to have basic solid knowledge, including the known unknowns. The difficulties: in terms of prevention, nothing works perfectly with flu - and we don't know how to make "what works" work. Masks are debated - but some work really well, and we need to find ways to get past the debate in time to do something useful. UV might help for some shared spaces but it's science, engineering & regulation so not expected to work fast. School closure is disruptive, but if done early in each local wave may be effective as part of the whole thing - link to Needs_and_Systems. Vaccines probably late and only for a small percentage of humanity. In terms of keeping vital stuff going, it's not just keeping things as they are, as we'd even want to increase some flows: for example, more healthcare, not less or the same, to the poor; mental health for all... Enough water, food, protection from the weather... Enough transport and communication for teams solving people's problems... See which has a 2.5-page index that's highly recommended, so you know where to find things later.

Game, playing it openly and sharing moves so they can be analysed, should give us all insights that could be used in real plans, preparation and response - even if not many play. Better with 15 million, of course! What's the minimum? 8k players What? 80 to prototype it What? 8 to design a first iteration in one or more open zoom (or better) conversations? What would the game look like? ...

References[edit | edit source]

WHO, CDC, ECDC, Mike Coston and Smithsonian videos, etc...

Let's connect and go viral with this?[edit | edit source]

Contact user LucasG, twitter lucasgonzalez, and use twitter hashtag pandemicflugame. Tell your friends. Let's see what the next steps are, today! Thanks!

Discussion[View | Edit]

LINKS[edit source]

UNSORTED[edit source]

  • @Fla_medic: AFD Blog `Four Global Flu Field Experiments '
  • @LancetGH: Public #hospital care in #Africa: first spatial census shows physical access remains poor and varies substantially within and between countries
  • Design conversations with people like @ncasenmare
  • Could be ~rabies: animal to human, stops there. Or could get milder if/when adaptation to humans happened. In fact, this is not at all about "scary". It's about some action.
  • I wonder if a high enough number of them would join in for pandemic resilience. That'd be cool... Businesses are ready to partner to build climate resilience
  • Gates says that and I agree. I'd wonder who could finance a good solid game ... but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'll collect the notions. Even as I do that, do you see anything missing? Questions? Thanks! @HarvardGH Gates has repeatedly stated that a pandemic is the greatest immediate threat to humanity on the planet. The need for robust veterinary & human public-health systems is evident. Macroeconomic risk is high, so monitor compliance under Art IV
  • Starting to think that game may be mostly about prevention. Even for supply/services disruption. I mean, there's a _heavy_ element of "intense need for agile coordination around vital priorities". But also keep farmers etc alive.
  • Isn't this part of the "international army ready to respond to an outbreak in less than 72 hours" planned by @DrTedros & @SCBriand of @WHO? Gamers from all walks of life trained in game. 10 million gamers & 1000 analysts (another entry point to the game)) learning!
  • Context: designing game. Gamer studies territory & earns points for mapping reality: @bodaceacat @willowbl00 1) SCIM:

@leashless 2) Inside "disease" include existing @fla_medic @SCBriand

  • #goarn and #fluscim18
  • _We_ can imagine levels... Collect links and improve structure. Links to how to do game design for this kind of stuff, with cooperative style, world indicators...
  • I had my own story of getting into #panflu, so what about gamers? Could there be a network of possible paths for learning, understanding, a certain level of enlightenment? "Flu works like this. Could be this bad. Our response..."
  • @DrTedros, @WHO, gives an epic speech: more non-earmarked funds from member states, army to respond to outbreaks in 72 hours, universal healthcare. How many game players would feel in that "army"? Talented, educated people. @SCBriand
  • The beast. :hides: (it's of course so _not_ a game) @WHO

"If we are truly to make the world safe, we must shift towards a greater emphasis on preventing emergencies, rather than reacting to them. Prevention – we have to strike first. We shouldn’t wait until the beast strikes.…

  • Now it's almost end of January 1918+100. #PandemicFluGame feels possible if we give it a push or three. At least in the NPI area, which is a big one. Still, very intrigued about the "vital supplies" side. How do we even start to look at that?
  • What are the moving parts of this system? (I'm still thinking game but you, fellow ant, can go after your own crumbs, as there's plenty.) What are the agents, visible and invisible? The actions and _flows_? I plugged a hole, no draft now, warmer room...
  • @HansRosling didn't live to see whatever comes next. I'm concerned about external (to population dynamics) reasons for massive deaths. Help to prove that wrong?
  • B N Sullivan, PhD @twellness RT @CIDRAP: Study confirms #flu spreads by aerosols, not just coughs, sneezes
  • By @scottwmcpherson Good examples for #PandemicFluGame and beyond. Focused on USA but ok. Supply chains... #Pandemic preparedness means reviewing your supply chains. As the current #influenza epidemic shows, we are NOT ready. … h/t .@Fla_Medic
  • Great article. Could similar models, for flu, be used in simulating the results of people applying NPI in #PandemicFluGame ? And what about supplies and services disruption? How to model that? @ghn_news Which mammal is really to blame for the spread of Black Death: 👦 or 🐀?
  • Seth Berkley Luck, yes. Research, not the only thing at all. Unless we also include research on how to do NPI and vital supplies & services for all humankind. @GaviSeth What stands between us & a 1918 style #flu pandemic? Mostly luck. That won't change unless we invest more in research:
  • This is the name of the new game. Michel Bauwens @mbauwens "How can we enable the formation of Global Cooperative Networks within the existing Global Adversarial Network? How could these bubbles form, grow, merge and eventually shift the whole civilisation towards a more cooperative generative process."
  • Cooperation vs competition. Avoiding the quarterback effect. The plot thickens...
  • How is flu transmitted? Easy... #not Now, let's turn this into practical advice in a deadly+disruptive pandemic. For all the world to do and benefit from. @MackayIM Influenza virus transmission: with or without symptoms, you’re dropping Flu virus … Isolation of obviously/severely ill? Try. Quarantine contacts? Iirc, only at start of local wave? Student regrouping in small stable groups, soon & for months, to multiply less. Shop, work, transport? Reduce, reinvent, screens, masks, asynch transfer, wash hands... Vax? Later. Bottom line, in a severe panflu, the disease or what we do to prevent it or both are going to cause disruption. It's a matter of choosing wisely from a limited menu + designing actions to make those options as workable and effective as possible. "Can't do more, won't do less."
  • To treat this mega-challenge as a game: 1) Use known science to create many variations of real-life situations 2) Gamers work out solutions for those specific challenges 3) Learn from the solutions 4) Iterate until real bad panflu. Might work? Also, assume disruption and minimise it: reinvent vital supplies & services so nobody does from non-flu reasons. Ex: 1) All elderly & frail need shopping, daily contact, etc. 2) Pregnancy, heart attacks, car accidents etc, still happen. 3) Isolate energy-plant workers in place? Finally (for now): Don't add wars. Keep calm ... really. Videogames, meditation and home-made puppets become a thing to do.
  • @janeathomason @GavinMacSkin @TinaWoods I haven't yet started thinking blockchain but definitely intrigued. What you say and what you do unto others will stay seen? Why would this be important? Slowly, slowly.
  • Slowly going down the rabbit hole of what this game actually means. I wonder what others think...
  • And, for even more context, Slowly. Within the Ebola page, deeper reflections towards the end of that page. A generative process...
  • So, I'll summarize to explain things to an action-oriented gamer. One willing to increase capacity for better NPI (non pharmaceutical interventions) and vital supplies and services for his accepted mission area. That's my mission.
  • What is missing? I have this hypothesis, and am willing to try with game to see if we'd gain any useful insights. The hypothesis is that a one-world approach, in which we help each other across all sorts of barriers, combined with a sense of epic win, might help us?
  • Looking at flu numbers. IIRC, you'd expect flu to cause symptoms in 8-12% of the population & kill 1-2 for every 10000 ill (for the whole winter epidemic, European countries, comparable surveillance). 1918? Not 10% or 100% worse. Rather, 500X = 50000% worse.
  • Flu is different every year, and in that context "2X" is noticeable in deaths, hospital admissions, etc. Plus winter does make any chronic respiratory condition worse. I've lived in boring weather, but I'd suspect worse winters have more impact? Not minimising any of that. But if we think 1918-like, or even a fraction of that, one "just bad enough" that it kills from flu _and_ from worldwide disruption, and in numbers that are say 100X normal flu... Then I _am_ concerned. Even an epic win would leave the survivors in tears. Or maybe I'm wrong.
  • Governments, from United Nations to State Members to Substate entities, have done stuff. Written, instigated, helped... Researchers have recovered artic samples (it was bird flu), modelled impacts, tried t-shirt masks, looked at generic drugs that would be available for all... Still, we all know we're nowhere near ready. So what's missing? A threat with no shape or date is _hard_. Competes with normal life and other threats. Difficult to even _think_ about. I did my best in but honestly I don't know.
  • What is missing? I have this hypothesis, and am willing to try with #PandemicFluGame to see if we'd gain any useful insights. The hypothesis is that a one-world approach, in which we help each other across all sorts of barriers, combined with a sense of epic win, might help us? The hypothesis includes that we'd forget official priorities. Of course @WHO and many experts are fighting for "a really good vaccine that would solve everything". One that can safely reach and protect all of humanity? And writing plans, govt & businesses, is good. But... What if that vaccine takes 5-10 years to develop, doesn't really work for the new pandemic agent, or cannot be delivered to the whole world in time? We need to keep/grow some solidarity, and effective action, and maybe even hope, while other things happen. Or maybe I'm wrong.
  • Sorry. :-( Context is game and #fluscim18 and what I'm starting is the design of a game to prepare & respond to a severe flu pandemic with prevention but minimising supply-chain disruption. Page is
  • is shaping up. Content and more thoughts about the game soon. Unless you beat me to it. Which you totally can...
  • @Crof @HelenBranswell @ECDC_Flu @CDCFlu @CIDRAP @Laurie_Garrett @artied @correlatedrisk ... Ok, sorry guys. This is a once-in-a-lifetime spam action. I've started a panflu game to see if we could attract...
  • Wow! I'm at it! :dances: … @avantgame @leashless @jaycousins @thejaymo @cascio @SCBriand @bevpaterson @janeathomason @bodaceacat #EpicTinySteps #PandemicFluGame #fluscim18
  • This is a game within a game. I'll try all 3 countries at once. Might need, ahem, _your_ help? ;-) :whistles looking at the ceiling:
  • Googled "random number between 1 and 7600" and got "4984". Let's see where that would be... Vietnam, Germany, DR Congo... Germany? Really? Tempted to override randomness! DRC, Congo for short. Focus on that 1st, then Vietnam and Germany. 1st step in the game would be to learn about the place: people and ages, how they feed themselves, what they die from, what does their trade look like. Softer things like news sources, makerspaces... Epic fun?
  • I'll need time, and deeper recovery from this slow-to-go flu, to do the research. Anyone wishing to beat me to it is of course more than welcome. Even better if you get help! You can respond to this and I'll port to the @appropedia page!
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