RAISING AWARENESS THROUGH PLAY

The overuse of antibiotics is creating one of the biggest problems ever faced by humanity – the looming threat that the medicines we use to treat infection and disease may soon stop working.

Over five years, the Longitude Prize is challenging everyone, from amateur scientists to professional researchers, to invent a quick, affordable and easy-to-use test to tell which antibiotics are needed and when. The ultimate goal is to stop the indiscriminate use which is speeding up bacteria’s resistance to these precious drugs.

Games are a great tool for engaging people with science – they can make the complex seem simple, and by their very nature pull in players to construct their own learning experiences.

Nesta, the UK’s innovation charity, commissioned Preloaded to create a game that explored the theme of antibiotic resistance and raised awareness of this key science prize for new audiences.

Games are a great tool for engaging people with science – they can make the complex seem simple, and by their very nature pull in players to construct their own learning experiences.

GAME MECHANICS MODELLED ON SCIENCE

The Superbugs game takes the principles of bacterial resistance – the way it arises and spreads – and models them in the game’s mechanics. The player’s goal is simple: to survive for as long as possible by keeping bacteria at bay, killing them with antibiotics before they fill a petri dish.

Just as in real life, the bacteria eventually become resistant to successive generations of antibiotics. The player must wait longer and longer for new ones to be researched, so using them sparingly is critical to holding out against the Superbugs.

 Skilled players will survive till around 2050, the date described as a potential crisis point in the UK government’s AMR Review, and one likely to fall within most of our players’ lifetimes

Critically, the time scale is balanced to subtly remind players of the speed at which this global problem is becoming a matter of urgency.

Antibiotic resistance is a very real problem that needs a lateral solution. The prize seeks to do this, and the game will play its part in the wider education initiative by drawing attention to this huge issue threatening society.”

Tamar Gosh , Longitude Prize Lead

Designing gameplay with a microbiologist

To get the behaviours of our bacterial colonies right, we had to find the perfect level of abstraction and metaphor.  We worked closely with the Longitude team, Nesta and a microbiologist content expert to validate and develop the game’s representation of science, making sure the dynamics of the gameplay were analogous to the real-life crisis.

Serious Play - Silver (Healthcare)

Award recognition

TIGA - Educational Game

Nominations