This is the first in a series of blog posts for my GDS220 class, creatively named Games Studio 2, but for this series I’ll be referring to it as Meaningful Games, as that is the core focus of the unit. These blogs are to help me keep on track and make sure I am meeting my goals (also making sure I set goals, arguably the most important step in meeting a goal). I will be posting about the various aspects I am learning that were interesting, unexpected or simply worth exploring further and the rabbit holes I inevitably end up diving into to do said learning. If you have been following my previous blogs, you will know (after I started getting organised) that I like to start the first blog with a description of how future blog posts will be set out, let you know what you are in store for and all that. I will be breaking the blogs down into 4 main sections, recap or reflection, then planning, goals and topics for next week, then the topic I have researched since last week, and finally any work that I have done, as evidence to the various learning outcomes I need to be meeting each week. For this week, my recap is the Intro and I’ll move forwards from here.
Between now and next week, there are a few things I really need to get sorted out, the first is the pitch required by next Friday, my game is in a state of flux at the moment (I have 3 different ones I want to make and I’m having difficulties narrowing it down). So really the first aspect is to do the research and make sure the game really can be made interesting, fun and educational, that’s right I’m gonna teach y’all something interesting.
- Decide on a topic for the game
- Do proper research (see below)
- Finish making the pitch
- Make the slides look awesome
- Present pitch and get green-lit (hopefully)
The Game (Herd Immunity Research)
My primary game concept, one that I am fairly sure I will want to do, even if my core gameplay idea changes, is about Vaccinations, my current working title is Herd Immunity, or simply The Herd. The core concept is to illustrate why herd immunity, the defence of a population against diseases by immunising as many people as possible, is so important. The term Herd Immunity was coined in the 1930’s referring to the protection given to a portion of the naive population (unvaccinated) by the rest of the vaccinated population by virtue of limiting the spread of the disease and so limiting how much of the population can be affected by said illness. There are a few main causes to the rise of this new dangerous so called “Anti-Vaxxer” trend, one being the lack of scientific literacy and trust within a portion of the general population and the misinformation brought up by various groups attempting to co-opt some portion of this concerned group in order to sell a science-negative narrative and various alternative-medicine options and seminars/’educational’ literature. My aim with this project is to create a relatable science driven game that can describe the general concepts of your immune system and herd immunity to people in a fun and interesting way. My current concept is to have the player literally trying to keep a herd alive, as the most direct correlation while not directly attacking the Anti-Vax movement.
This blog and my brainstorming is the primary pieces of work to be done this week, along with the readings, once I have my core concept worked out, I will have much more to do, but until then, I am stuck with conceptualising. Next week I will have much more to do.
One of the other aspects I need to complete before the pitch is analysing similar games; enter Vax, a game illustrating herd immunity (http://vax.herokuapp.com/herdImmunity) in an abstract form, very simple, but an interesting concept. The gameplay, as opposed to story, is what conveys the meaning, which is what I am trying to accomplish. The game has a series of dots connected to each other by lines, each of the dots represent people or populations and the lines represent the interactions between them. The game has 2 phases, Vaccination and Quarantine, both phases involve clicking on dots to remove them from the game, with the only difference being the presence or absence of a virus to fight off. The game scores you on how much of the population you saved, the most effective method is to cut off entire chunks of the population with wither quarantine or vaccination, allowing the rest of the population protection by proxy. This is a perfect metaphor for Herd Immunity, immunise as many people as you can, to cut off the chance for an illness to spread so far. Vax is fairly minimal game, the clinical white and greys only punctuated by the red’s of the infection spreading and the yellows of those who refuse to vaccinate, which increases the difficulty of the initial section, trying to keep the population safe, while someone stands as a possible Nidus for the invading material. Overall I really enjoyed the game, it was simple and tricky, had few levels, but got its message across to me quite quickly in an interesting way.