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  • Results From Game Design Challenge: Safety First!

    - Danny Cowan

  • Xavier Ekkel, Experimental Game Developer, Germy Journey

    Germy Journey is a casual mobile/browser-based game in a 2D vector-art cartoon style, where players must minimise the germs collected by an office worker on their way home. The game aims to educate players about the (research-based) germiness of things we touch in our everyday lives, and how quickly those germs can accumulate and spread. 

    The journey follows this path:

    • Leaving Office
      • Objects: Computer, Elevator Buttons, Office Door
    • Walking to the Train Station
      • Objects: Pedestrian Crossing Button, ATM, Public Bathroom
      • Resets: Public Bathroom (washing hands)
    • Taking the Train
      • Objects: Train Door, Train Handles, Escalator Rail
    • Walking Home
      • Random Events Only

    The worker moves through this journey automatically, but it is up to the player to click the hands of the worker to prevent them from touching their face with germy hands. Every time the worker touches their face, the accumulated germs are added to a permanent germ count which cannot be reset. The goal is to minimise this permanent germ count.

    Every time the worker uses their hands to touch an object, their hands get more germy based on the (research-based) germiness of that object. For example, the worker will collect more germs from holding the escalator rail than from using the ATM. The germiness of an object will be indicated by a glow (ranging in intensity from green to yellow to red) which can be hovered over to view the number.

    In addition to workers instinctively wanting to touch their face (which humans do over 2000 times a day!), random events may occur, such as the worker wanting to use their phone, eat a snack, or cough. These random events will occur more frequently at higher difficulty levels.

    Phone usage can be delayed by clicking the worker's hand as it reaches into their pocket, but it gets more difficult to delay (i.e. the time window for clicking shortens) each time. If a phone is used, both the hand and the phone inherit the highest accumulated germ count between them. For example, if the current phone germ count is 1000 and the current hand germ count is 500, then the hand germ count increases to 1000; and if the current hand germ count is 2000 and the phone germ count is 0, then the phone germ count increases to 2000. This can be especially dangerous near the end of the journey, where the phone germ count may be extremely high, even if your hands have been recently cleaned.

    Similarly, eating a snack can be delayed by clicking the worker's hand, but it gets harder and harder each time. Once the player starts eating a snack, the germ count from the hands is added to the permanent germ count (as the player is ingesting the snack after touching it with their hands), so players should only eat when their germ count has recently been reset!

    In the case of coughing, players should ensure the worker coughs into their elbow (by clicking it at the right time) to minimise the spread of germs; otherwise, a large amount is added to the permanent germ count as well as to the germ count of objects in the environment.

    Workers get an opportunity to wash their hands and reset their hand germ count at the public bathroom. Hand germ count can also be reset by using hand sanitizer, the number of times you can use it being dependent on the difficulty level players set for themselves. The ability to reset germ count can be used strategically at the right time to minimise germ count during random events.


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