Visualizing contagion
August 1, 2014 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Vax: Gamifying Epidemic Prevention "Players are tasked to prepare for an outbreak by vaccinating a network that resembles human social networks. After distributing vaccines, an infectious outbreak begins to spread and the player is tasked to quell the epidemic by quarantining individuals at risk of becoming infected."

The creators are Ellsworth Campbell, a PhD student in the Salathé Group at Penn State University, and graphic designer Isaac Bromley. Additional scenarios are currently under construction; for example, the Herd Immunity section is animated but not interactive. The code is open and available on GitHub.
posted by GrammarMoses (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I thought I recognized "reticulating splines".
posted by benito.strauss at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Someone needs to turn this into a multiplayer game where the opponent is playing Plague Inc.

Er, but more seriously, the game runs into significant issues very early because the playable area isn't big enough to contain the network graph without a lot of overlap, and because the Pin Nodes (or Areas or whatever) note sits on top of the playable area, you basically can't select any nodes under it. Which is problematic because the graph flees for the edges of the playable area very quickly.

But otherwise it's super fun! I like the concept and hope they get to work more on the game.
posted by chrominance at 3:17 PM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

The stupid nodes keep bouncing around on me. Conceptually it's great though a bit easy.
posted by jeather at 3:35 PM on August 1, 2014

Only the Easy level is operational right now, jeather. Guess I should have mentioned that...
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2014

Really? I played the medium and hard levels (medium has a less sparse network, hard the same but with anti-vax nodes).
posted by jeather at 4:00 PM on August 1, 2014

That's odd. But in retrospect, I think I just never got good enough to unlock the higher levels. /sheepish
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2014

I think the bouncing nodes is meant as a feature, not a bug -- it's hard to get the right nodes vaccinated in time. I somehow got 80% on "hard" but haven't come close to that again.
posted by Rumple at 4:26 PM on August 1, 2014

I got 74% on hard. I think I was lucky, it was easier than Medium by a long shot.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2014

I also found hard (89) easier than medium (53). Now I'm trying real-time.
posted by jeather at 5:48 PM on August 1, 2014

Yeah, another vote for finding hard easier than medium. I think you get more vaccinations for hard, which seems to make a a bigger difference than the antivaxxers do.

A lot of it seems to be chance -- is the original infection point randomly chosen, or am I just choosing different nodes to vaccinate each time so it seems that way? (The initial network seems stable, but maybe I'm wrong about that... it's presented differently each time.)
posted by pie ninja at 6:38 PM on August 1, 2014

I'm finding it difficult to actually divide the network with the vaccines given. Good fun though.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:50 PM on August 1, 2014

oh great, it's like the train game BUT EVEN MORE ADDICTIVE

(so far my best scores are 72% on medium, which I agree is harder, and 74% on hard.)

I'm finding it difficult to actually divide the network with the vaccines given. Good fun though.

in general, you aren't going to be able to split off a significant part of the network with the vaccines, especially at medium and high--the key is to use the vaccines to reduce the number of large, graph-spanning connections, so that you can quickly disconnect parts of the graph when the outbreak starts
posted by kagredon at 8:44 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know about anyone else, but the menu options on the bottom are hidden off screen and require me to scroll to see them. It could be that I have a small screen but I would expect this game to just scale.
posted by lalunamel at 4:39 AM on August 2, 2014

A good idea, but not enough thought on the actual gameplay. The randomness of the initial outbreak makes a vaccination strategy difficult, and the bouncing nodes are annoying; once you've moved a node it should retain its place while untouched nodes should be dragged as if the edges are elastic.
posted by beerbajay at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2014

Not sure if this is the "bouncing nodes" that people are talking about, but there was a comment about something like pinning nodes that I saw. Hover your cursor over one node, then his space bar. Either I'm less bothered by bouncing nodes, or I used a feature others haven't.

> ... not enough thought on the actual gameplay. The randomness of the initial outbreak makes a vaccination strategy difficult.

Isn't this the point of the game? Maybe they should add a feature where, if you come up with refutations to some arguments made by an NPC vaccine-refuser, you get five extra vaccines.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:49 AM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

> Isn't this the point of the game?

Yeah, I guess so. Though don't true epidemiologists actually have the problem that the social connections graph isn't known in the first place?

The "hover and press space" function doesn't work when I'm holding down my mouse button, so it's pretty useless. (firefox)

I enjoy the game anyway; figuring out graph cuts is always fun.
posted by beerbajay at 12:32 PM on August 2, 2014

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