IVCC Take on the ResistanceSim Challenge

Staff members from across the IVCC took part in a ResistanceSim interactive seminar on the 31st of July 2017. The event enabled the development team to pilot the latest version of ResistanceSim; as well as an opportunity for some veteran vector control experts to test their knowledge.

The first challenge came in the form of 16 short missions. Each containing a key step in the implementation of an insecticide resistance management plan. To support the learning a series of mini-lectures were delivered between missions; describing key methods in entomological research such as mosquito collection methods, resistance mechanisms, and resistance test methods.

Every participant completed the 16 missions with a certain air of confidence, and in some cases, a clear sense of determination demonstrated by the presence of 3 stars over every mission label.

Members of IVCC stepped up their game in the afternoon when let loose in the open simulation. During the missions, player choice is limited to the type of test methods and vector control intervention used. In the open simulation, players have complete control over data collection, intervention choice, community engagement, training, and stakeholder involvement. Split into three groups, and limited only by the insecticide classes they could use, conversations started flowing over the hard decisions they now had to make in their virtual world.

One group debated the pros and cons of deploying an indoor residual spray program before collecting baseline entomological data. Another participant was overheard stating ‘we don’t need to talk to the stakeholders for additional funding, we have plenty of money,’ only to regret their position when their annual budget was significantly reduced.

No matter their role in IVCC, every participant felt they had gained something from the day’s session, from a new appreciation of digital games to a better understanding of mosquito collection methods. A promising result as the game enters the formal evaluation period with target users.


ResistanceSim will be evaluated later this year in the context of a 1-day interactive seminar in Ethiopia and Zambia. Knowledge acquisition, retention, self-efficacy, attitudes, perceptions, and skills transfer will be explored through semi-structured interviews and questionnaires.


HIV GET Mobile Game Performs Well During Playability Testing: You Beta Believe It!

Beta testing is a nerve inducing time for any game developer. It often coincides with the first time people outside of the team interact with your game, and when your work is under the scrutiny of both potential target users and eagle eyed researchers, the risk of disruption to the game development becomes even greater.

Hep B

While this was the first time the HIV GET mobile game (working title HIV: Battle in the Blood) was played by individuals outside of the project team, it was not the first time potential users have been involved in the development process.  A total of 8 focus group discussions, 2 game testing sessions, along with 14 interviews and a national survey has enabled a user-led approach to the game design and messaging; the recent success of the beta testing could be evidence that this was the right approach to take.

That’s not to say we’re going to kick back and raise a glass to a job well done, there’s still a huge amount to do before the game release on the 1st of December 2017. The honest and in-depth advice provided by our wonderful beta testers has given us clear direction to improve the user experience. A list of game changes has been developed and is being implemented, some of these changes will be assessed during the next beta testing session in Davao, Philippines, with target users on the 9th of September 2017 to see if they were successful in resolving reported playability issues.

Our primary focus will be on improving the game’s onboarding and creating more variety in the levels. We will also explore ways to improve the storyline in the game and create a stronger connection between the gameplay and animations.

Below are just a few of our favorite quotes from our beta testers and some results from the playability questionnaire.

The game is beautiful. The interface is easy to use. It’s just that, like what he said, there’s no instruction as to what the power-ups are for, why some icons are glowing… there’s no instruction explaining that in the game.

My first comment is that I love that the avatar is gender-sensitive. It doesn’t have boy-girl gender. It’s all on how you dress your character. For me, that’s a positive. Although, as previously stated, that right after customizing your character, you won’t see much of it in the game.

And then, there’s also this impression that when you finish the level, the congratulations part, or the ‘stage cleared’ part, it looks like you’re inside the vagina. [laughs]

*1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree

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Game Testers Needed!

game-ui.pngETCH is looking for volunteers to attend a UK focus group discussion and gameplay session. Participants will play test a beta version of a mobile game designed to encourage adolescents and young adults to engage with HIV testing and counselling services. We will discuss the playability, appropriateness, and usability of the game. Participants will have a direct influence on the game design and storyline. All feedback will be kept anonymous.

To attend the session, you must be able to travel to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on the 8th of August 2017. The session will run from 11 am to 2 pm. All we ask is that you have an interest in HIV testing and counselling, are at least 18 years of age and have access to a smartphone to play the game on.


Lunch and refreshments will be provided and a prize awarded to the highest scorer during the play testing. ETCH will refund local travel expenses if receipts are provided.

If you would like to take part, please email charlotte.hemingway@lstmed.ac.uk with the following information by the 24th of July 2017:

  • Name
  • Profession
  • Age
  • Type of smartphone you own (select from the following options) Android, iOS, Windows, other
  • Last mobile game you played
  • Email address


Spaces are limited, participants will be selected at random. Confirmation of your place and additional guidance for the day will be provided on the 25th of July.

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions.

*Artwork by EM Studios

Edward Thomsen: Games to Address Challenges in Tropical Health

Another opportunity to watch Edward Thomsen’s thought provoking presentation at the International Society of Neglected Tropical Diseases Festival held on the 23rd of February 2017.

Edward talks about the potential games have to impact knowledge and behaviour, he discusses how serious games could help bridge the gap between evidence and impact in tropical health and provides a quick overview of the current games in development.

Still want more? Then check out the short audio interview from SciDev.net for more on digital games for insecticide resistance management.

HIV G.E.T Tested Technical Prototype

Researchers at LSTM have been fighting the HIV virus armed with a brand new arsenal of weapons as they test out the technical prototype for the HIV GET Tested mobile game. Developers at EM Studios have been working at lighting speeds to take the game design from paper to mobile, giving the research team their first hands-on experience of the mechanics that will become the backbone of this game.

Keep an eye on the ETCH blog for regular development updates.

*Artwork produced by EM Studios

Beta Testers and Bug Spotters

ETCH is looking for 10 volunteers to test the latest version of our simulation game for insecticide resistance management. Previous experience with the game is not necessary. Some basic knowledge of insecticide resistance or e-learning tools is recommended.

The testing session will be held at The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Each volunteer will receive £15 for their time. The highest scorers in the game will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win an adorable Giant Microbe. Drinks will be served after the gaming session.

The session will include; a short introduction, 2hr gaming session and finish with a short questionnaire and focus group discussion. All feedback provided will be kept anonymous and will be used to locate bugs and improve the game only.

Email  charlotte.hemingway@lstmed.ac.uk before the 27th March 2017 if you would like to attend. Please discuss this with your line manager or supervisor before confirming your attendance.

We Won an Award!

From Trump impersonators to award ceremonies, The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) festival was an inspiring showcase of innovation in creative works for neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

ETCH was delighted to be invited to present at the festival, as well as networking with research groups and implementors injecting creativity into the fight against NTDs.

And of course, ETCH was truly honoured to be awarded for education and innovation in disease control through the use of games.

We’d like to offer a huge thank you to everyone that has made this award possible, from our game developers at EM Studios, to our committed stakeholders that endured long workshops and of course to the ISNTD for this recognition.