Top five tips for playing Superbugs the game

11 October 2017
Written by
Hassan Al-Omari and Shannon Harmon
Giant Microbe superbug plush prize toys

We spent last weekend playing Superbugs: The game at our stand for New Scientist Live. Children and adults alike learnt the basics of the game and, importantly, a bit about how antibiotic resistance works. Scores were recorded and the longest-lived won plush superbug toys! Below we have included some resources and tips for you to try for your best score.

The key to survival

An important aspect to the game is understanding the relationship between antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance. The mechanics of the game are based on science and using this information allows you to be more effective in keeping those bacteria in check.

Here are our 5 top tips for getting that high score!

1. Bide your time!

Knowing when to use your new generation of antibiotics is key. It takes longer and longer to develop new generations of effective antibiotics so making sure you ONLY use them WHEN it is totally necessary means you won’t have to wait too long until the next generation is available.

2. Keep ‘em contained!

Don’t let your resistant bacteria spread around the dish as this speeds up the spread of resistance. Try and use your antibiotics wisely and keep the resistant ones contained in one area whilst clearing the others.

3. Don’t Panic!

Don’t try and administer your antibiotics too quickly by hammering the screen with your finger. It's better to take it slow and steady, ensuring you target your antibiotics effectively on each bacteria. I find holding down my finger to cover larger areas of the petri dish works better than lots of quick smaller dabs.

4. Give them all you got!

There is a big chance that bacteria will become resistant after surviving exposure to the antibiotic. Make sure you use enough antibiotic to kill the bacteria the first time to slow down the rate of resistance. Hold you finger down and don’t release it until those pesky bacteria are exterminated.

winners of superbugs
5. Know your bacteria!

Each strain of bacteria has its own appearance, rate of growth and toughness (the time it takes to destroy it after being bathed in antibiotic). A top tip for those more advanced players is to keep an eye out for those bacteria that are more troublesome and make sure you focus your antibiotics on them first.


If you score over 58 years, our top score (and, it is obviously not a bug in the game, which sometimes allows you to live hundreds of years...) and tweet us a screenshot - we may just send you a furry friend of your own!

Living with a Superbug is not fun. Let’s all continue to work together through learning and spreading awareness of resistance. Here are some actions you can take to help.

Download the Superbugs game here.