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Mud is life

(or life is completely mud)

Mud is life is a boardgame (in Spanish for now) designed to teach children of young ages the functioning of coastal ecosystems, in particular of the extensive intertidal mudflats.

It is based on the principles of Game of the Goose . Of course it has some tweaks and twists, getting some ideas from Snake and Ladders and other games. And where else? From life itself! Life is tough so just be careful where you go…

The manual includes all the information that a school teacher needs, or a parent if s/he is brave, to explain the what and why of the processes occurring on the board. Although the game itself would be more attractive to younger children, all the concepts can be explained in more detail to older ones as well. Of course you can just enjoy the game and leave the science for later.

The game is setup for six players (or groups) each assuming the role of one of the main characters on an intertidal setting. A fiddler crab, a sediment polychaete worm, a seagrass plant, a microalgae, a macroalgae and of course a bacterium.

And finally, you need your board. The setting. It is your intertidal mudflat with all the elements interacting, both living and abiotic, such as the wind, the sun, the tide, the pollution… Moving across the board/mudflat will have its consequences, some predictable, the special spaces, and others not, where you will have to pick a special card.

Humans are not explicitly present in the game but they definitely make their presence and impact clear in almost all the players’ lives. You will be fished, garbagged on, or just suffer the consequences of climate change.

Hopefully you will learn something and help your “characters” survive in the real world.

Let the adventure in the mud begin! Roll the dices!

To download the game, fill in this form and we will send you the link.


“Mud is life” is part of the activity “We play with science”, an action included in the VII Plan for the Dissemination of Science and Knowledge of the UCA, belonging to the Unit for Scientific Culture and Innovation (UCC+i) of the Vice-Rectorate for Science and Technology Policy, and co-funded by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) – Ministry of Science and Innovation. The first stages of the development of the game were funded by the internal funding program of the Institute of Marine Science of the University of Cádiz.


The game is offered for free. However, a lot of hours were spent on designing it and making it look nice. Institutional funds have also been invested. So pretty please, do not change, copy, plagiarise etc. the game or the images within without our consent. The generation of derivative works or commercial use of the original work is not allowed, i.e., only non-commercial uses and purposes are possible.


We are happy to hear from you in case you want to translate the game in your language, suggest an expansion (we already have some ideas which we will post here), suggest new rules (also in the making) or ask us to use, with proper credit, some of the images.

We can then upload all the versions and your suggestions here to be available for everyone. We might even be able to help you make them.