Hey, do you know what's huge and dangerous right now? #Pokemon and contagious diseases. Pokémon fever is so high right now that #PokemonGO is causing car accidents, and a recent uptick in the popularity of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories has already resulted in the resurgence of deadly diseases once thought to be eradicated from the developed world.
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On the Pokémon side, authorities are already working hard to stress the importance of safety and mindfulness on the road, and as the winter cold sets in, we'll probably be switching from Pokémon GO to #PokemonSunMoon anyway. When it comes to diseases though, well, it seems like Pokémon has actually inspired a creative duo in Australia to fight illness and ignorance with gaming.
Pokémon Sun and Moon is about to drop!
Pestilent Pocket Monsters
Billing itself as 'World's first immunization integrated card game', Vaxcards was created as a way to raise awareness of how vaccination can combat death by preventable diseases, especially in young children. Anyone who's played Collective Card Games like Pokémon TCG, Magic: The Gathering, or Yu-Gi-Oh will recognize the layout and gameplay elements.
Vaxcards is a multiplayer game where you reduce your enemy's HP by attacking them with infectious diseases. The diseases themselves are personified as Pokémon-type monsters, with attacks and characteristics based on the actual diseases. Diseases that cause itchy rashes are presented as fiery monsters, others are bloated and swollen. Memorably, Tetanus is covered in cuts and scratches, clutching a bunch of rusty nails. Part-cute, part-creepy, the diseases can evolve into more dangerous forms.
The game's creators, Adam and Dan, were inspired by Dan's background as a doctor and a mutual love of board games. The aim of the project is to 'gamify' health and science education, and do their bit to raise awareness of the symptoms of dangerous diseases and the importance of vaccination. It's easy to see the potential of this game as a school aid for groups of kids to play with, but they also designed a fairly deep system of optional rules that can make the game engaging to play for adults.
Take a look at Vaxcard's gameplay in their trailer:
Packed with Max Vax Facts
If you want to learn more about Vaxcards, support the game, or pick up a deck for purposes educational or recreational, head over to the Vaxcards kickstarter page. There are various package deals available, included classroom and village size mega-orders.
Some might balk at kids being exposed to such a morbid subject in a game, but children are hard to gross out, and a fun CCG might help them remember the facts of quite a dense but important subject.
Through the game, kids can learn what symptoms to look out for, how the diseases are spread, and which diseases have already been eradicated through the use of vaccination. Children aren't the only ones who can benefit from this, of course. Adult life being as busy and stressful as it is, plenty of us grownups could also do with a refresher.
Adam and Dan hope that their game packs will eventually be distributed at vaccine programs as an educational tool and a reward for those kids who get nervous about needles. It's an admirable goal, and an intriguing use of gaming as a vehicle for science education.
If it takes off and people engage with it, will gamification eventually become a standard tool in education? In a world where we are increasingly engaged with games and apps in our day-to-day life, this move could end up being super-effective.
Do you think that games are a good way to educate kids?