Going Viral! The Game

The scientists at BioBus and their creative interns have made a new educational card game to help students understand how viruses work!

Our current version in play-testing was sent off for a limited print run, featuring updated art and rules. With the guidance of game designer and biomedical illustrator Lucas Petrin BFA, BioBus has tested the game using virtual game simulators and prepared the cards with custom artwork.

Going Viral is Launching on Kickstarter in 2022!

Want a copy?

The Beta print of Going Viral! with original artwork by Lucas Petrin.
PC: C. Howell

The Game

In Going Viral!, each player takes on the role of a virus that is competing to successfully infect a host cell by completing the steps of viral replication. Players must draw ATP Cards to gain enough energy to buy the five stages of replication. However, included in the deck are obstacles such as treatments and fevers which make it harder to gain ATP, and advantages such as growth cards to aid the replication process. 

Read the full rules here.

The Science

Viruses are bits of biological material (the same pieces that make up animal cells and plant cells). Viruses can’t survive without cells to infect: in fact, they aren’t really “alive” in the way we think of other living things, so for them surviving means making copies of themselves.

There are millions of viruses in the world. Lucky for us, most viruses don’t make people sick (many can’t event get in our cells, and some can infect human cells but not make us sick). There are a relatively small number of viruses that cause human diseases.

Rockefeller University’s “RockEdu: What is a Virus?
Scientific American: What is a Virus?

The Story

In the summer of 2019, BioBus hosted two interns through the LifeSci NYC Internship Program. These two young women, Desiree and Ruby, designed and created an activity to help middle school students learn about how viruses work. Working on it over the summer (while writing research articles for students, visiting research labs, and running two weeks of science summer camp) Desiree and Ruby created a fully-functional playable game: Going Viral!

After students played the game, Ruby and Desiree submitted an abstract to the 2020 CUNY Games Conference, and academic meeting for the development and sharing of educational game resources. In January, 2020 Ruby and Desiree presented on their project and were able to have the game play-tested by educators and game designers in NYC.

BioBus Interns Desiree Obaji (left) and Ruby Gumenick (right) presenting “Going Viral!” at the 2020 CUNY Games Conference.
PC: A Pirovano

In 2022 BioBus hopes to prepare the physical game for a more robust release.

If you would like to support the development of Going Viral!, have any questions about the game’s development, or know anything that would help make this project even better, please reach out to Harlem Lead Scientist Rob Frawley (

If you’d like to receive a print copy of the game please fill out this form with your email information.

Students in BioBus’s middle school Medicine Summer Camp play test “Going Viral!” for the first time in the summer of 2019.
PC: A Pirovano