Graph all the things

analyzing all the things you forgot to wonder about

World Health Organization Game

interests: simulations, sandboxes



Gameplay Notes

You don't need to read this unless you're curious or confused.

Try to stop a virus from killing too many people. This is a turn-based, single player game. There is no win or lose, only achievements 🏆.

Day One

The game starts on the day the virus first kills someone. There are already numerous people infected, some of whom you know about. On day one, you are guaranteed that all infected people are in the virus's original city.

Sharing Seed <

Normally every time you reload the page, you get an entirely new, randomly-generated planet and a new virus with its own characteristics. To share the seed that generates the planet and virus, click the "<" button in the top right. Note that this does not save your progress.


Your lever to change the world! Click on a region and select any of the • bullet point options. If the region's country has enough political will, you can increase its effort against the virus.

Actions don't reset unless you decide to reset them. If you do reduce an action level, you get back most of its political will cost.

Pass Time Button

Once you've set each region's actions to your liking, click the "→ (date)" button in the bottom left to make time pass until your next decision point.

The game goes from 2020-01-01 to 2021-01-01 in 26 turns.

Zoom In/Out

If you click on a country, you can zoom in to see its cities. Note that each city just uses its country's political will to set actions.

You can zoom back out with the zoom out ↺ button in the bottom left.

Settings ≡

To slice the data in various ways, you can shade each region by different criteria, such as population density or how much political will is available.

You can also choose to present most statistics as counts or percentages.

And you can configure how quickly days pass after clicking the pass time button.

Phases: Healthy, Sick, Dead, Recovered

These are the 4 broad phases a person can be in. It also matters when a sick person got sick - there is a certain number of days (incubation period) before they start showing sympoms, another number of days before they possibly die, and then another number of days until they recover. Sick people are equally infectuous throughout each of these periods.

Healthy people can become sick, and sick people can become dead or recovered. There are no other transitions possible.

Known Sick and Known Recovered

Just like the real world, you never know exactly how many people are actually sick. You can get better estimates by more frequent testing, but the only data you will ever be able to see is in terms of confirmed cases

But fortunately, you do get an exact count of how many people have died so far.

Virus Data ℹ

At the start of the game, basic knowledge about the virus is unknown. If you perform enough virus data research, you will gradually reveal the information under this menu.

Charts 📈

Once you have let at least one turn pass, you can plot the number of people who were in each (known) phase at each time. You can choose to either compare multiple phases within the same region or one phase in multiple regions.

Political Will

You gain political will when bad things happen. The more people die and the more people are identified as sick, the more political will will increase in that country. Each death contributes substantially more than each identified sick person. If if n people die at once, you only gain \sqrt{n} times as much political will; larger numbers do not impress people as much as they should.

So it makes sense to

  • "flatten the curve" to get more political will out of the same number of cases, and
  • test more people to avoid missing out on political will.

Each death or new case will be "heard around the world", causing other countries wills to increase slighlty. However, this effect is rather small, since countries are usually complacent until they are already adversely affected.

Hospital Beds, Population Density, and Wealth

Hospital beds can reduce the death rate for up to a certain number of sick people. You can increase the effective hospital capacity by doing hospital triaging research.

Population density increases the rate at which the disease spreads. Additionally, contact tracing is less effective in very dense regions.

Each country has a certain wealth level that reduces the political cost of contact tracing, testing, and (especially) research.


You can set each city's quarantine action on the subset of the population known to be sick and/or on the rest of its people (apparently healthy). This reduces their chance of spreading the virus within the region, and also reduces the chance of visitors from other regions spreading the disease. Quarantining sick people is politically much cheaper than quarantining apparently healthy people.

Public Safety Announcements

Each city's PSA action reduces people's chance of spreading the virus within the region, and also reduces their chance to infect people in other regions. This is cheaper but less effective than quarantine.

PSA effeciveness increases as you perform mitigation research; by better understanding how the disease spreads, you can better inform people of how they should change their behavior.

Domestic/International Travel Restrictions

Domestic and international travel restrictions reduce the chance for people to bring the disease to other countries. You can limit entering or leaving, and you select whether to do this on known sick and/or apparently healthy people.


By default, you will only test a small fraction of people who seem to be having symptoms. Within each city, you can increase testing on people with some sort of symptoms (suspected sick). For each sick person past the incubation period, this gives you a higher chance to identify them. The effectiveness of this testing increases as you perform virus data research; by better understanding the symptoms, you can administer tests to a more select group.

Or you can test on the general populace of apparently healthy people. This is more politically expensive, but allows you to identify (what is often a larger contingent of) sick people earlier.

Research Investment

Once you have taken a political action to invest in a certain type of research, your research level increases every day without additional investment. Research applies globally, so a single country's effort can help other countries as well.

If you invest in a type of research intensely enough and long enough, you can max out. In this case, your political will will be automatically, partially refunded to you as if you had turned that action off.

Virus data research reveals facts about the virus under the ℹ menu and also increases the effectiveness of testing suspected sick people. Mitigation research increases the effectiveness of PSA's and also slightly reduces how likely known sick people are to spread the disease. Hospital triaging research effectively increases each country's hospital capacity.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is another way (but, if taken too far, a sinister one) to identify sick people. Whenever someone becomes sick, contact tracing has a chance to immediately identify them, based on the fraction of sick people you are already aware of and the level of contact tracing. Additionally, beyond a certain population density threshold (again depending on the contact tracing level), contact tracing becomes less effective.