Julián Perelli    Projects    Blog    Talks

Pixel Infection

I made a game about covid-19 spread in javascript. In this article I will explain the mechanics and how it was programmed. You can see it working here


I was thinking about creating a simple game in javascript, but I wasn’t motivatead about any particular theme.

Suddendly covid-19 was here, so after reading articles about the disease spreading and with much time to spare in front of the computer (isolating/social distancing), I started building a prototype with the spread of an infection as a core idea.


It is a “resources” and “technology” advancing game in real time.

The player

The player is able to control the disease spreading in the population by applying the same policies that different countries are using currently with covid-19:

The policies are available via upgrades. Policies can only be applied after a threshold of infections, and the threshold depends on some population parameters (i.e. China has a more powerful state, USA has a more powerful private sector, therefore policies can be applied easier in China)

Applying policies affect the production, food, etc.

The population

There are some variables that make the population behave differently:

#### The disease

The disease is increasingly difficult to defeat, It can


I’m using Pixi.js as a game library and publishing as a static html+js files in the repository

Initial prototype

Initially, I created a simple prototype to be able to try if I can program the mechanics and the disease spreading.

In Pixi, just like in most game frameworks, you get a main loop where you can do all the computation to graphic the next frame in the animation.

I added only 3 elements:

I created a javascript class for each element, I’ll highlight here the Person

class Person {
  // pixi
  sprite: PIXI.Sprite;
  bounds: PIXI.Rectangle;

  // position and movement
  baseX: number;
  baseY: number;
  offsetX: number;
  offsetY: number;
  direction: number;
  turningSpeed: number;
  speed: number;

  // state
  infected: Date | null;
  recovered: boolean;
  dead: boolean;

  // attributes
  age: number;
  offsetMax: number; // sedentarism / auto-quarantine

  constructor({ country, texture, bounds }: PersonConstructorParams)

  // check if this person collides with any barrier
  collidesWithAny(barriers: Array<Barrier>)

  // calculate the next position x, y. Check if collides with any barrier
  moveStep(dt: number, barriers: Array<Barrier>)

A Person has a “base” location (x, y) and an offset position that has a maximum distance, it moves almost randomly in that area. That represents the local movement of a person in a community.

Depending on how much the population tends to “travel”, there is a probability that the person changes the “base” location.

Main loop

There are 4 arrays of persons, each one for a different state

  interface people: {
    dead: Array<Person>;
    recovered: Array<Person>;
    infected: Array<Person>;
    not_infected: Array<Person>;

Then the main loop iterates over all the not-dead people and moves them to the recovered or dead state depending on some factors:

Using the the infected and uses a function to check if an infected person will infect another one depending on some factors:

    for (let i = this.people.infected.length - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
      const person = this.people.infected[i];
      const days_infected = (this.global_date.valueOf() - person.infected.valueOf()) / 1000 / 60 / 60 / 24
      if (days_infected > Config.DAYS_INCUBATION) {
          person.sprite.tint = 0xff0000;
      if (days_infected > Config.DAYS_TO_CURE) {
        const [p] = this.people.infected.splice(i, 1);
        if (p.age < randn_bm(-200, 110, 0.25)) {
          p.recovered = true;
          p.sprite.tint = 0x00ff00;
        } else {
          p.dead = true;
          p.sprite.tint = 0xaaaaaa;

    // iterate through the people and infect the person near to an infected one
    let newinfected = [];
    for (let i = this.people.not_infected.length - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
      const person = this.people.not_infected[i];
      for (let j = this.people.infected.length - 1; j >= 0; j--) {
        const other = this.people.infected[j];
        if (
          Math.abs(other.sprite.x - person.sprite.x) +
            Math.abs(other.sprite.y - person.sprite.y) <
            Config.CONTAGION_RADIUS &&
          Math.random() < Config.CONTAGION_PROBABILITY
        ) {
          const [p] = this.people.not_infected.splice(i, 1);
          p.infected = this.global_date;

You can see the full source code here

Final note

The game is in progress and so this article :)