Common Sense Review
Updated February 2013

You Make Me Sick!

Dramatic way to teach kids about the spread of germs
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Players create a virus and a bacteria strain.
  • The player chooses the characteristics of the virus or bacteria.
  • In the simulated environment, the player infects objects for the host to touch.
  • The game shows a view of the host's insides, allowing players to track the infection's progress.
  • An in-game reference dictionary is helpful for learning about scientific vocabulary.
Pros
Kids become evil scientists when creating and then spreading their own infectious germs in a simulated environment.
Cons
The stage of the game where you actually spread your germs on objects in the rooms -- with a virtual spray paint -- gets repetitive.
Bottom Line
This engaging and informative game teaches about the spread of germs by letting players take the side of germs.
Graphite Staff
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

By allowing the player to be the one in charge of inventing and naming new pathogens, this game brings students into the role of evil scientist. The steps that explain how to create your bacteria and virus are clear and easy to understand.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids learn about bacteria and viruses and the spread of infectious disease by taking the side of the germs. The game uses a lot of content-specific vocabulary words as the player learns about the role of pathogens and sickness.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

A visual tutorial, with embedded video screencasts, does a nice job of demonstrating how to play the game, including the initial setup phase.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

You Make Me Sick! would be a handy addition to a unit on infectious diseases, bacteria, or the human body. It provides a fascinating, if unsettling, reminder of how many germs and microbes are around us, and how careful we need to be in what we touch and where our hands end up.

Teachers can try using the free demo version that provides a nice overview of the game (with limited features.) The demo does not require a login account, and you activate the game easily enough with the game launch link. A tutorial with video screencasts walks you through the gameplay, and then you start by making choices about your bacteria and virus. The game then informs players of the host target (the person you're trying to infect). For a more in-depth game experience, teachers will need to purchase the classroom version of the game.

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What's It Like?

The witty title of this game -- You Make Me Sick! -- will no doubt get the attention of your students. The good news is that this game will also sustain your students' interest because it's a simulation game where they get to create and then spread germs -- kind of like being an evil scientist. By putting players in control of “creating” bacteria and viruses that they then spread into the simulated environments where computer-generated characters, or hosts, wander around touching things, kid see firsthand how the spread of disease occurs. When the hosts come into contact with the player’s germs, they get sick. The challenge of play increases as the hosts use antibiotics and better hygiene to combat illnesses.

As in the popular game Spore, kids love to name and create new life -- in this case, pathogens. Players choose the basic characteristics of the pathogens (and those choices increase in the paid version); they spread germs around the room or environment by choosing objects to infect, and then the computer-created hosts wander in. Players have some tools to guide the hosts to the infected objects. Once a host is infected, the game shifts to an inside look at the host's stomach, where a battle ensues. A game is won or lost depending on the strength and number of the pathogens that the host character comes into contact with, and how well the gut of the human host can fight.

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Is It Good For Learning?

As students are put in charge of creating and then tracking their germs' success, they quickly understand the life cycle of germs. Kids learn by taking the side of the germs, trying to figure out how they can best make humans sick -- a novel approach to learning. You Make Me Sick! lets kids learn by investigating, applying information, and experimenting. By embedding scientific terminology throughout the game, the game helps kids pick up the new language. Plus, the game offers an audio narrative that helps guide the gameplay, and an accessible dictionary of terminology with voice-over makes even the most difficult words here accessible to a wider audience.

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