The development of a game-based simulation for exploring the early history of the development and history of the smallpox vaccination.
Edward Jenner's 1798 smallpox vaccine was a breakthrough against an epidemic disease, and its subsequent role as a public health measure demonstrates the interplay of disease, patient, healers, and social institutions in medical history. Our project, Pox and the City: A Digital Role-Playing Game for the History of Medicine, explores these complex interrelationships in a format that will enhance existing humanities teaching and enable historians of medicine to reach new audiences. The game, a collaboration between historians of medicine and Serious Games specialists, can be played as a smallpox doctor, a virus, or a patient. The grant will be used to create and test the first level of the game for each of these characters. Pox and the City makes use of the world-renowned historical collection of books, ephemera, images, and artifacts held by the College of Physicians in Philadelphia. The outcome will be an open-source, Flash-based RPG for use in web-based and GeoDome applications.