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Friday, 13 March 2020

Gaming the pandemic

One of the ways of creating a model of the decisions states make facing a pandemic is using Confrontation Analysis- the Card game. This views the potential choices as cards in the government hand which can be played or not.

For example, the government can play a card- “mobilise all nursing students and direct them into hospitals to create a pool of reserve nurses!

The factors in this this situation are:

Public confidence in government

Impact on economy

Impact on virus

Each of these are rated +5 (best outcome possible) to -5 (terrible, very bad) 0 = a balance of good and bad.

The card would say “mobilise nursing students”

Public confidence + 2 (the public like the idea of mobilising and fighting the pandemic)

Impact on economy -2 (they will expect to get paid like trained nurses)

Impact on virus + 2 (it would help fight the virus)

For this card, another factor is added- Universities -1 (as they will lose money on the students not being students for a while, if universities are paid for absent students add -1 on to impact on economy as well as being paid, the universities are paid).

The pandemic has stages e.g. Contain, delay, pandemic, recovery. Each stage may have a different score. These are listed in order.

e.g. The card mobilise nursing students looks like this:

public confidence -1\0\+1\+1

Impact on economy -1\-1\-1\-1

Impact on virus 0\+1\+2\+2

Special- Universities -1, if universities paid for absent nurses score is 0 but extra -1 to impact on economy.

It does not take long to generate a whole series of cards that can be used to inform a discussion about what choices governments have at each stage of the pandemic.


  1. Hello John. Back on screen IPlayer from 2018 BBC4 Pandemic with Hannah Fry

  2. Unfortunately I've left my Confrontation Analysis book in the bookcase at my office at work!
    Now sitting at home trying to carry on without the aid of an office full of comforting books and files.
    Cards often allow more interesting approaches to free-form problem solving... a bit like the improv game "1000 Blank White Cards".

    1. the cards help visualise and create a mental model.

      good luck with everthing else!

  3. Interesting Telegraph reports on 'buried' Exercise Cygnus three day scenario c. 2016

  4. It would seem China is actually taking advantage of the pandemic to change the situation with Hong Kong.