So 18 months after we released the free, print-at-home version of Gut Check: The Microbiome game we finally have a commercial version! The game is available from MOBIO Laboratories here, for the very reasonable price of $20 with free shipping. For a really nice write-up about the game, check out this blog post from Anne Estes.
What is it?
Gut Check is a game for 2-4 players where each player attempts to develop a healthy microbiome while interfering with the microbiomes of their opponents. Give your friends the plague, botulism and more! Go to work sick to get rid of a pathogen, take some probiotics, or have some lasagna (if you can digest it). The game takes 30-60 minutes to play, depending on experience and number of players.
Is this a “real game” or an “educational game”?
Gut Check was designed by a gamer, and draws on elements from a number of games including Pandemic, Magic The Gathering, and Dominion. While the game plays equally well with 2, 3, or 4 players the strategy changes in each case. Optimal play revolves around hand management, card cycling, striking a balance between building your own microbiome or playing cards to interfere with opponents, and timing various events.
That being said, the game is based on our current knowledge of the human microbiome and recent exciting research in this area. Through playing the game, one might accidentally learn about concepts such as antibiotic resistance, hospital-acquired infections, prebiotics, probiotics, opportunistic infections and more.