Microculture Game / Social Card Game / MIT Media Lab / SXSW 2015

Watch the video of Microculture to see people play the game at the MIT Media Lab Lounge at SXSW 2015


Create a social game around the topic of Human Microbiome to be played at SXSW MIT Media Lab Lounge.


Microculture is a card-based event game that embodies the behavior of our human microbiome. It is also an icebreaker game that relies on a simple form of social interaction. The idea is to create correlations between the needs of the culture and the actual personal preferences and cultural backgrounds of the players. The goal is to be a part of the largest culture of human microbes at the end of the event. The more bacteria there is in a culture, the more diverse that culture is.


Develop the concept, gameplay design process as well as the visual design of the cards, interface and water color ink illustrations featured on the cards.


Microculture is a collaboration between Parsons School of Design and the MIT Media Lab: David KongColleen MacklinMelanie BossertJane Mcdonough and myself. It was launched at the SXSW 2015 conference as part of the MIT Media Lab Lounge events. Microculture recently partnered with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to produce an updated customized version for its monthly SciCafe event. 




To start, 4 individuals are given their bacteria ID card. They are the initial head-hunters. They each belong to a different flora.
They also obtain a deck of cards of other bacteria IDs that belong to the same flora.
On the cards, players are prompted to “Find someone who…” and the flora’s criteria “is from a cold country?”, “prefers sweet or salty food”, “cannot swim”, “is a great cook”. If the players preferences match with culture’s flora requirements, they shake hands and therefore are now part of the culture. When a player is recruited, they are given a card and a color coded token that they can attach to their SXSW badge.
They should also follow their flora on Twitter: @MicroCultVagina @MicroCultMouth @MicroCultSkin @MicroCultGut.


There are four key components in Microculture: The Game: the bacteria ID cards/flora cards, the flora tokens, the real-time visualization, and the event management.
The bacteria ID cards/flora cards assigns each player to a specific flora.
The flora tokens help the players to identify team members.
The visualization keeps the players updated about the game state. It is a visual representation of the Microcultures and will grow in real-time according to the number of twitter followers using Twitter API. GitHub: Twitter Tracking and Animation
The event management is used to make the game accessible for multiple events outside of the SXSW environment.


We chose to assign human attributes to create an engaging experience for the user and teaches the players about the human micro-biome in a playful way. We simplified the scientific information and experimented with the visual format and size to teach the players about bacteria but keep it open for own thoughts. Additionally we experimented different ways for the digital visualization.





Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Based on a work at http://microculture-game.com/
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://microculture-game.com/