Jeremy Felt

A free video game idea for the pandemic

The original Snake, or the version from the 80s that ran on the Apple IIc+ that I’m familiar with, was one of the best games. I spent hours!!! maneuvering snake pixels around the screen. Just yesterday my dad and I were geeking out on how each apple was literally a massive pixel and how you were so connected to the snake’s movements with every press of the arrow key.

Left, right, that’s all you had!

The original Minesweeper, or the version from the 90s that ran on Windows 3.1, was also one of the best games. Again, hours!!! clicking boxes, quickly calculating mine positions, and taking chances to clear areas faster and faster.

Those games and the daily walks we take during this pandemic we’re living through are the inspirations for whatever the game should be called. “Pandemic” is probably already taken.


You use arrow keys, nothing else, to control the movement of a person on the screen. Using something like the space bar to come to a complete stop could work, but keep it simple.

I would prefer an overhead view similar to Snake or the original Grand Theft Auto, but maybe someone could do something interesting with 3d…nah, make it overhead.

The person you are controlling is out for a walk. The more time spent within a certain radius of other people that may or may not be carriers of the virus, the more likely it is your person will catch the virus and the game is over.

That’s the gist.

Variables include:

  • Viral efficiency. This may be modified in the game by changing the radius of danger around each person or by changing the amount of exposure time required to contract the virus.
  • Awareness (or carelessness). The people you are trying to walk around in the game may also be trying to avoid contact or they may be completely ignorant. You won’t necessarily know until you’re within a certain distance.
  • Masks. This fits with both of the above, but also feels like a separate category. At a certain person density, it probably makes sense for people to be wearing masks. Once a person is within “view” of your character, something signals whether or not they have a mask on.
  • Obstacles. Cars, intersections, stoplights, bicyclists, etc…
  • Speed. How quickly everyone is walking and obstacles are moving.

As you navigate your person in the overhead view, you see aerosol trails behind other people as they walk through a neighborhood. These trails are consistent with the radius of danger and help you maneuver between and around people and their paths as necessary to safely complete your walk. In the initial levels, you may be walking in a super quiet neighborhood. As the game progresses, you work toward busy city streets.

You may start crossing the road to avoid an oncoming pedestrian on the sidewalk, but then see a family walking down their drive way and decide to stick to the middle of the road—but here comes a car!

Bonus version: Sim City style simulation in which you design the neighborhood, set the variables, and hit play to watch it all unfold. Use it to create super hard levels or to try and create more navigable pedestrian friendly zones during a pandemic.

I would definitely play this game if someone made it.

A note just in case: this post, like all others on the site, is licensed as CC BY-SA 4.0, so this idea literally is free. While completely unlikely, if someone does end up making this and the license on the written expression of the idea is too restrictive for making an actual game rather than communicating your expression of the idea under the same license, give me a shout and I can change it. I have no idea how licensing works with the crossover from idea to program.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The only requirement for your mention to be recognized is a link to this post in your post's content. You can update or delete your post and then re-submit the URL in the form to update or remove your response from this page.

Learn more about Webmentions.