Cassandra Ziesman: A Pandemic Epic


Today, I am looking at the player impact guide for the game Pandemic II, also known as Pandemic. I have played a little with this game, but alas never really thought about it. I’ll be playing this game on realistic mode and as a parasite. As a parasite, my possible-pandemic will have a slow evolution but isn’t as affected to environments and isn’t easily detected.

Game Basics

  • Choose different types of symptoms to start the game. What type of symptom did you choose?

My parasite has the initial traits of heat resistance 1 and has the symptom of sweating. Since my disease starts in the Middle East, I decide to go with fevers. This will keep my visibility low, but can allow my parasite to easily cause death to those infected.

  • What are evolution points and how do you get them?

Evolution points are like attribute points in the game or money. They are used to buy symptoms, resistances, and transmission for your disease. They are gained over time with the rate depending on the type of disease (viral, bacteria, and parasite).

  • How does your evolution help spread your disease?

The evolution points as noted above can be bought for symptoms and transmission. There are four transmission types: rodent, insect, airborne, and waterborne. Each type of transmission is useful to get to certain countries which has facilities like airports, seaports, and the like, but aren’t next to each other.

  • Read the breaking news on the left corner. What is happening in the world and how does it inform your

In the world, my parasite is in the Middle East still, which hurricanes hitting China, and a drought in Argentina. Since my neighbor is China, the airports are closed for the hurricanes so I would have to find a different way to spread the disease. If I was near Argentia, I could get insect transmission to help it spread.

  • Looking at the map, what countries are the hardest ones to infect and why?

Unless you start in Madagascar or are near it and infect it right away… They’ll close their ports before you reach it. The Oceanic areas such as Australia and Indonesia do have some problems and Greenland has also be giving me trouble to infect.

Theme Insights

  • What kinds of traits did your disease begin the game with? How did those affect your strategy?

I had heat resistance 1 and sweating, and these traits didn’t affect much since I was going with the strategy of being less visible, but highly infectious until I spend all my points into being lethal.

  • How effective was your disease against humanity? Would you evolve in the future? Why?

It was very infectious and effective since I took my time to plan it. I stayed with the low visible/high infect strategy and got nearly all the areas infected. So I evolved as I could to try to cover the world until my disease was discovered. Sadly, Madagascar closed it’s seaport shortly after the disease was discovered.

  • How do natural disasters in the world help your disease spread faster?

I didn’t really get a chance to see them in action as my disease was in areas where natural disasters weren’t happening! And when they were, they were either already infected or no where near there. I did notice the infection population did go up in countries when they were hit.

  • For the countries that were not infected, why did the infection not spread?

Madagascar closed it seaport after my disease was discovered and was near it. Since Madagascar only had the one port, it was a stalemate for my disease as it could not be transmitted to a country that was isolating itself.

World Connections

  • What is a pandemic? How is it different from an epidemic?

A pandemic is a global infectious disease, as it will infections millions around the world. An epidemic is a disease that stays in a region, but is afflicted to a large population in the region.

  • Have any pandemics ever happened during your lifetime? What were they and how did they affect the

They are HIV and AIDS pandemic which are transmitted by body fluids. There is also the many, many types of influenza pandemics (swine flu, bird flu, etc) like the H1N1. Also do to the anti-vaccine movement weakening the herd immunity of humans, certain diseases are starting to become possible pandemics.

  • How do nations work to prevent pandemics?

Nations’ can close down airports and seaports to prevent transmission and close borders as well to prevent infected people from coming. They can fund research to create vaccines and distribute them. There is also funding for medicines and hospitals, curfews and martial law!

  • If the disease you created in your game was unleashed against humanity in real life, how effective do you
    think it would be? Would humanity be able to stop it be before it spreads out of control? Why?

I’m unsure of the effectiveness since it’ll understandably take years for it to evolve into a lethal, heavily infectious parasite. My parasite didn’t have a human controlling so it would probably have a few mutations that will set it back years on the infectious scale. Then it’ll be a while to mutate into it’s lethal form. I would think that humanity would probably wipe it out quickly, but that if it deemed a high priority to vaccine researchers. There would be other diseases that would be more deadly to cure than my parasite.

  • How can a game like Pandemic II be useful against actual pandemics?

It helps spread the general idea about how transmission works. While it doesn’t give much of a narrative, it does make the player think about how to infect people to “win”. Of course at the end, that should be when the player realizes they just doomed society. Plus it teaches people what types of diseases there are and how governments are used to keep diseases at bay. For every action or evolution the player disease takes, there is a possible counter move for the countries to take. It also teaches us how much we need vaccines and the all important herd immunity.

You could easily recreate West Nile virus by picking up the insect transmission, or Bubonic plague with a rodent transmission. However, it should be noted that there are diseases that are transmitted in different ways than the 4 in the game (body fluids, skin contact, other animals) so that recreating certain diseases will have to be created.

4 thoughts on “Cassandra Ziesman: A Pandemic Epic

  1. It sounds like you had much more success in your game than I did in mine. I started in Argentina and infected all of South America but that was the furthest I got. I agree with your point of how the game helps players better understand how a disease is transmitted, and how governments work together to save it’s people, i was fascinated by how well the countries seemed to coordinate their correspondence to shut down the countries facilities and try to save its people without the disease spreading.

    • I played the game before so I knew a little about mechanics of it and it sounded interesting to think about the game critically as I mostly saw it as a game to take out those secret misanthropic frustrations on.

  2. This game sounds very interesting! I like the premise of the player becoming the virus and finding the most effective ways to create a pandemic. I think this perspective can be useful in countries learning preventative measures for breakouts, or learning how parasites can be developed/transmitted. It cracked me up reading that you were trying to purchase upgrades to make your disease more lethal. I think the game developers were clever in integrating aspects of the growth and spread of disease into a game leveling system. It translates well and seems like the perfect melding of fun and education.

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