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.
Where do I get it?
There are now three versions of Gut Check: The Microbiome Game. The first is freely available online, click here for our downloads page. There you can download PDFs of the board, player sheets, instructions, and cards. The artwork on the free version is designed to conserve printer ink while still maintaining the ambiance of the game. A professionally printed version of the game (released Sept 19th 2016) with two sided cards, a high-quality player board, playing pieces, etc. was available through MOBIO Laboratories Inc (now part of Qiagen). That version is no longer commercially available. In 2021, Qiagen reprinted the game for promotional purposes, it’s not available for purchase but can be obtained through various promotions/offers. Read their blog about the new release for more information.
If you play the game we would love it if you took our survey! It takes only a couple of minutes and will help us design future editions of Gut Check and possibly other science games. Thanks!