2020 Gaming Emergency Response to Disease​ Course

2020 Gaming Emergency Response to Disease Course

15-16 April 2020
0900 to 1730 EDT

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Games are a way to develop disease response plans, to rehearse organizational processes and relationships prior to an event, and to build an understanding of the challenges involved in an actual response. While the current pandemic highlights that large-scale disease outbreaks can create some difficult policy, medical, and communications choices, response to smaller disease outbreaks is something that happens all of the time. And the implications of deliberate use of disease in war or terrorism has been the subject of much research in the past few decades. All of these topics give professional game designers a rich set of topics and questions to incorporate into organizational, research, and rehearsal games.

In this two-day, class we will focus on the application of professional games to the problems associated with disease response. We will cover pandemic response games, both national and international. We will also examine problems of novel or unique organisms, biological warfare and terrorism, and public health response. The objective throughout the class will be to identify unique or challenging aspects involved in designing games involving disease response. We will also incorporate emerging lessons from the current pandemic response into our discussions.

The instructors have designed, developed, and executed a wide range of disease and pandemic response games at the organizational, national, and international level. They have extensive experience in the areas of response to biological terrorism and the planning and coordination required in that response.

The current pandemic is a reminder that disease can produce unusual, unique, and difficult challenges for decision-makers at all levels of government. Games provide an opportunity to bring those decision-makers together and let them understand the challenges before they actually happen. In this class we will consider how to build games that help decision-makers with those challenges.


Dr. ED McGrady - Chemical Engineering. Extensive experience designing and running games. Directed the gaming team at CNA (a Navy think tank), and am currently teaching game design for several different institutions. Designs games on a range of topics, including interagency disease response. Previously directed the CBR-D team at CNA where they worked CBR-D response in both games and real world events. Dr. McGrady's games on disease response range from individual ships to the national security council. He has worked with DA Henderson on building games on smallpox response. As part of leading the CBR-D team at CNA he supervised CBR analysis of several real-world incidents.

Dr. Christine Hughes - Biochemistry - has extensive experience in analysis of medical, law enforcement, military, and other operations. As part of the CBR-D team at CNA she worked with HHS, CDC, and Department of Agriculture on a wide range of games and analyses, including the ricin response on Capitol Hill and gaming smallpox scenarios. For DOD, she has also executed a game on pandemic influenza for the US Navy and the Italian Ministry of Health and multiple other consequence management games involving chemical and biological agent releases.

Mr. Peter Pelligrino (CDR USN – Ret.) - Pete Pellegrino is a Senior Military Analyst with Valiant Integrated Services supporting the War Gaming Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, US Naval War College, as Lead for Game Design and Adjudication. Mr. Pellegrino is a former squadron commander with 22 years of service as an EA-6B Naval Flight Officer and served as the Game Division Director for the War Gaming Department from 2004 until his retirement from active duty in 2007. While assigned as military faculty, Mr. Pellegrino also taught war gaming design and strategic game theory electives. He has conducted pandemic games for the US European Command and Dartmouth College’s health and public policy center. He has conducted “business war games” for Fortune 500 companies, and is a contributing game designer to Junior General, a website dedicated to the use of gaming in secondary education. He has served as a panelist at the PAXEast gaming convention, discussing gaming and education, and is a consultant to major toy and game manufacturers.


Day 1: Fundamentals

0900-1000 EDT: Welcome and introduction to the problem of disease response.

1000-1100 EDT : Basic biology of infectious disease as it relates to games

1100-1115 EDT: Break

1115-1200 EDT: Understanding the NRP and national disease response processes

1200-1300 EDT: Understanding the international environment

1300-1400 EDT: Break

1400-1500 EDT: Game design fundamentals

1500-1600 EDT: Types of games and their application to disease response

1600-1730 EDT: Game design through the lens of disease response

Day 2: Special topics

0900-1000 EDT: What makes disease response different?

1000-1115 EDT: Scenario development: giving players workable challenges

1115-1200 EDT: Game mechanics: matching the right mechanics to the challenge

1200-1300 EDT: Players – getting them, keeping them, and managing them

1300-1400 EDT: Break

1400-1500 EDT: Mathematics of the problem: getting the story straight

1500-1600 EDT: Building a matrix game – what are matrix games, how do we build one, lets do it

1600-1730 EDT: Playing a pandemic matrix game through virtual media


Payment Options

The "Invoice Me" option can only be used for the registration fee. If you need assistance registering please contact Ms. Tina Yan, tina.yan@mors.org

  Member Non-Member
MORS Sponsor $700 $720
U.S. Federal Government $720 $750
National Research Partner
(IDA Employees Only)
$710 $760
All Others $750 $800