Time flies! You can tell that by looking at old pictures. I avoid doing that, so I prefer looking at my old blog posts. It has been almost one year since I last blogged about public health fun! Unacceptable and, hence, about to be corrected.
By looking for new public health games, I came across the site of the School of Public Health of the University of Minnesota. This site offers a variety of tools and resources, including links to public health games. Bingo!
Naturally, I had to try them out. Not that I wanted to, you understand, I only did it in order to be able to give you a brief description and review. You are welcome 😉
- I started by trying the game called Epidemic!
Description: “A mysterious disease is causing people to fall ill in your city. Join the team to stop the epidemic before it spreads throughout the city and beyond”.
This game was developed by the Midwest Center for Lifelong Learning in Public Health (MCLLPH). You can either play alone or connect online with other players. You are asked to choose a role (community health educator, environmental health scientist, public health officer, epidemiologist).
Review: I chose the Epidemiologist role. I had certain tasks to complete and each task was using up my (limited) number of resources. For instance, I had to look into patient info and decide whether they have common symptoms.
What I liked: The opportunity of assuming different roles; the graphics; the variability of tasks; the possibility of playing with others online.
What I did not like: It requires registration (having said that, it is rather quick); as I did not fully accomplish my mission (there are limits to how much you can play online while at work), it is still not clear to me how this game really works when you chose not to with real people online. After playing for a while I did not receive any new “missions” and I thought it’d be a matter of waiting. Later on, however, I discovered in my spam folder some e-mail invitations to join as the other characters of the game. So I am wondering whether this means that I should have logged in as another character of the team and complete missions in order to be able to continue. If anyone can answer this, it would be great!
The verdict: All in all I liked the game. It has variability and gives certain satisfaction while playing it. Gives a view of different tasks allocated to different roles, which is useful.
- The second game I tried is called Global Outbreak: A Public Health ICS Simulation.
Description: “An outbreak of respiratory infection is spreading around the globe. Cases have just been confirmed in your state. You are called to report to the State Health Department DOL”.
Yes, some unknown terms for me that I had to look up! ICS stands for Incident Command System, which is a “systematic tool used for the command, control and coordination of emergency response” in the US (perhaps also elsewhere?). DOL refers to Department’s Operation Center. The game was developed by U-SEEE Preparedness Emergency Response Research Center.
Review: In this game you can also choose between different roles, namely Logistics Chief, Operations Chief or Panning Chief. Registration is required and quite a lot of personal details are requested. There is a pre-test, which is focused on the ICS process. Clearly, I had no idea what to reply and I’m not ashamed to present you my results:
The game will be realistic for a lot of people: it consists of attending a lot of meetings:
and even replying to e-mails as quickly as possible:
What I liked: This is quite realistic and interactive (for instance, you can zoom into posters hanging on the walls etc). It gives a glimpse into how the ICS system works, which was new for me and therefore quite interesting. There is a certificate in the end, in case you have a wall for those things.
What I did not like: The registration process was too lengthy for my impatient nature. The pre-test was frustrating but the results do not affect the rest of the game. And there were far too many meetings for my liking! Game works better with Safari and Google Chrome, although I did not have any problems with Firefox.
The verdict: I enjoyed this game more than I thought! It was something between watching a movie and playing a game, or rather having some control over a movie you are watching. Even if I was not familiar with the US processes, it was still interesting to see how it works and I would definately play it again.
- The final game I would like to talk to you about is called “Disaster in Franklin County: A Public Health Simulation”.
Description: “When Franklin County is battered and broken by a calamitous summer storm, you must ensure its residents are kept safe from the myriad public health concerns revealed as the community rebuilds and recovers”. It was developed by the University of Minnesota Center for Public Health Preparedness.
Review: The game consists of taking the perspective of various public health professionals responding to a natural disaster (county public health director, public health nurse, environmental health specialist and others). The game goes on for 14 chapters during the first 30 days of the outbreak. According to the instructions it takes 45 mins to complete (I did not complete it). There are some pre-test questions here too, where I did much better than the previous game, if you must know! You can get 1 CPH certification credit upon completion, which I assume is a good thing.
What I liked: I liked the fact that you can take up various roles and not only one like in the other games. The game is interactive and keeps the interest going but making you accomplish different tasks, from inspecting shelters to talking to the press:
What I did not like: 45 minutes might be too long, although I did not complete the mission. The “meeting” parts of the game are a bit tiring.
The verdict: I enjoyed this game as well, mainly due to the variability of tasks and roles. It is rather realistic and quite fun!
Have you played any of these games? If yes, I would love to hear what you thought about them!
Do you think that the use of games in public health might be really useful? (A recent CDC blogpost by Jenny Gotstein claims so). If yes, in which ways? If not how else can we make public health fun, especially for education purposes?