Bioethics Forum Essay
Social-Change Games Can Help Us Understand the Public Health Choices We Face
Before there was the Covid-19 pandemic, there was Pandemic. This tabletop game, in which players collaborate to fight disease outbreaks, debuted in 2007. Expansions feature weaponized pathogens, historic pandemics, zoonotic diseases, and vaccine development races. Game mechanics modelled on pandemic vectors provide multiple narratives: battle, quest, detection, discovery. There is satisfaction in playing “against” disease–and winning. Real pandemic is not as tidy as a game. But can games support understanding about the societal challenges we now face? Yes.