Dr. Sara: Disease Detective - a Mobile Game About Contact Tracing

Project: Research project

Project Details


We propose to make a simulation/strategy genre mobile game to serve as an immersive training and awareness-building tool that teaches students about contact tracing and the important work of Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers (“disease detectives”) who, like investigators at a crime scene, search for the cause of disease, identify people who are at risk, and determine how to control its spread and prevent it from recurring. We will combine our expertise—in Digital Media Design and Science and Technology Studies, respectively—to produce an original, interactive mobile game that synthesizes state of the art mobile entertainment design, grounded in theory of how science touches upon both modern technologies and complex socio-political dynamics (e.g. politicians, news media, and business interests). Importantly, we will have a worldclass immunologist, Dr. Ali Sultan of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and HBKU, as a science consultant. In addition, Hamad Medical Center has pledged their support of the project. Through hands-on simulation of the network science and detective work that Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers (EIS) do on the front lines combating disease, this immersive mobile game will teach the product user the fundamentals of how infectious diseases spread and how they can be isolated and stopped. Students will engage with the core concepts of fomites, vectors, index patient, R0, and contact tracing—and their relevance to stopping the spread of contagions. Within the framework of the mobile game experience, the player assumes the role of an EIS officer working to determine and isolate the pathways of severe contagions, as they work through the social networks and interconnections of peoples’ immediate travel histories. In the role of an EIS officer, the student seeks to: 1. isolate and contain the spread; 2. locate the origin of the pathogen; and 3. analyze and determine the nature of the pathogen. Along the way, the student will encounter a variety of obstacles dealing with the investigative aspect of reverse modeling the contagion’s spread, as well as various political, personal, and sociocultural considerations they must traverse. By situating the gameplay within the context of a Qatar-based EIS Officer—with Doha as the nexus of the modern world, where East meets West—the disease detectives’ work will take the character all around the world in their quest to determine the origin of the pathogen. By introducing students to a mobile game of disease detective work, we believe the product will stimulate an interest in science, technology, medicine, public health, and other related fields. The problem-solving aspect of the mobile game experience will build local capacity in research and human development in order to better response any emergent health crises in the future.
Effective start/end date4/15/219/14/21


  • Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU-SRO-IC03-022 #NUQ)


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