Tummy Trek is a mobile game designed to raise awareness of gut bacteria among teens and young adults. The game is a river adventure set inside the human intestine. There are empty spots set along the river where the player can place good bacteria to protect the “trees” lining the gut wall, thus maintaining a healthy environment.
The fact that gut bacteria is related to many physical and mental problems such as constipation, obesity, diabetes, and anxiety disorders grabbed my attention. Our diet, daily schedule and habits are passed on to gut bacteria. As a host, it's smart to provide better living conditions for the residents inside, which benefits ourselves at the same time. I created Tummy Trek to deliver the message and the healthy living tips through game, which is good learning assistance due to the process of repetition and the impetus to build habits.
Characters. The design of bacteria characters was based on the actual forms of gut bacteria, which brought a sense of authenticity. Six characters are created currently, three good and three bad. Each good character is assigned with one skill that is abstracted from the actual functions of good bacteria. Bad characters cause damage to the environment as pathogens do.
Settings. Based on the visual of intestinal villus, blobby trees that form the intestinal wall were developed. The following two screens show the interaction between gut condition and mood.
Food. I established a score system that divides food into three groups—food that contains plenty of energy, nutrients, and dietary fiber offers 5 points each time, food that contains fewer nutrients but essential fat and protein offers 3 points, and food that barely contains nutrient but lots of fat and sugar offers 2 points.
Structure. Tummy Trek contains three sections—Play (The game), Collection (Collections of bacteria and food, delivering scientific facts and fun facts), Achievement (Player earns coupons for grocery stores by clearing levels with high score. Player also earns in-game power-ups by importing daily health data and reaching physical goals.)
Exhibition in 2017 MICA Grad Show.
Plush toys. Aside from the game, I got plush toys made for my characters. The cuteness and tangibility brought bacteria closer to us and called for care. I hope Tummy Trek introduces good bacteria to people more as a friend than as a science term.
Take care of your bacteria friends and live a healthier life.
Special thanks to
Directors Ellen Lupton, Jason Gottlieb, Jennifer Cole Phillips
Critics Kiel Mutschelknaus, Abraham Burickson
Exhibition Advisors Jeremy Hoffman, Abbott Miller
Writing Advisor Stacia Brown
GD MFA Class of 2017, 2016