Unus Terra, a serious game against COVID-19 that stimulates behavioral changes in the real world by leveraging persuasive design principles, is the winner of DATA against COVID-19, the online DeepHack organized by EIT Digital to develop digital solutions for epidemic and pandemic lifecycle management.
In the final pitching sessions of the EIT Digital DeepHack, 20 teams coming from 13 countries competed for a total prize of €15,000, and for the opportunity to be selected for a follow-up EIT Digital activity to fully develop and deploy their solution. The winning team, Unus Terra, based in Finland, took home €7,000.
The Unus Terra Pitch by Juho Mattila, who created the game together with Jarkko Tuovinen:
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“With Unus Terra, we want to promote the effectiveness of social distancing and show players around the world how COVID-19 infections are spreading”, Juho Mattila explains on his DevPost platform. “People, especially the younger ones, are already forgetting about social distancing practices. They’re gathering in groups, and unknowingly might be infecting other people with the virus. We see an engaging gamified mobile application as a solution to not only inform the users about the ongoing situation but also encourage them to keep practicing social distancing during this dire global situation.”
The effectiveness of social distancing
Unus Terra wants to promote the effectiveness of social distancing and show players around the world how the COVID-19 infections spread in semi real-time with daily infection updates. In the game, you can see a world-wide heat map of the infection hot spots, and teleport to hard-hit areas to help the local players fight against the evil virus. Daily, when the player checks in, they can see new infections around their area and need to start the daily fight from there, moving later to more far-aways areas of the world.
Mattila: “Infections around the user’s area affect the number of enemies in the action part of the game view. The users’ actions during the day, how they are keeping a distance from others, and staying in the safety of their homes affect the accumulation of antiviral points which are used to fight against the viruses.”
The game is still in the development phase. Mattila is thinking of having a monetization system not much different from modern mobile games. “But we’re looking into if part of the in-app purchases could be dedicated to COVID-19 related donations.”
The social element of the fight is the main focus, Mattila adds. “We want people to be able to have light interaction in the game with other people to give encouragement to each other, as well as see how the fight is proceeding around the world. One idea is to have stories of the people affected to share their individual stories in the world-view inside the game.”
The game is won when the virus infection around the world has gone under R0<1, and effectively the infections have stopped spreading. “We have designed the game mechanics so it continuously engages the user, as every day there are more viruses to kill, and the player can unlock abilities and new antiviral drug recipes.” The game can transform for other epidemics as well, such as seasonal influenza, so there are endless possibilities for expanding the game.
Second and Third
The second prize in the DATA against COVID-19 Deephack was awarded to a team from Germany, Brazil, France, Italy, and the Czech Republic, composed of members of the Targomo startup, for their “Service coverage and capacity management” solution. The tool visualizes ICU beds service coverage and accessibility maps in a specific area and makes it possible to identify risk areas or target certain demographics during the pandemic. The third place went to the UK-based team behind “AI-App for COVID-19”, an app that uses artificial intelligence to help managers and insurers assess the risk of viruses spreading at planned events.