Project 1: diabeJEEZ!


DiabeJEEZ! is a competitive game for 2-6 players that teaches them about the challenges that a type 1 diabetic might face. Each player plays as a high school senior with type 1 diabetes, with the goal of overcoming enough challenges and experiencing enough events to prove to their parents that they are prepared to manage their own diabetes in college! Beyond this central goal, in order to win, players must also strive to be the best-managed diabetic in the group, represented by the number of stars that they have collected.

The game includes challenge, narrative, and discovery as types of fun. The players face challenges when deciding which actions to take at what point in time, and they can also be challenged and impeded by other player’s actions. There is a light narrative that develops as players collect challenges with descriptions that shape the overall tale of their diabetic journey. Finally there is a light sense of discovery with random event cards and unknown challenges, which players hopefully will look forward to uncovering.

By the end of the game, the hope is that players will have greater knowledge of the types of difficulties a person with type 1 diabetes might face, as well as an empathetic understanding of how hard it can be to live with a chronic illness that is often invisible to others.


I don’t have much, but I made a little logo and here’s what a box with the logo on it might look:




You’re a high school senior with type 1 diabetes. You’ve been struggling to manage your diabetes on your own, and are faced with all kinds of challenges and events that you must experience and overcome. 

It’s your dream to be more independent and move out of the house and into a student dorm once you start college next year! However, your parents are hesitant to let you move out – they don’t knnow if you’re ready to handle diabetes on your own. 

You need to show them that you got what it takes by overcoming enough challenges and experiencing enough events. Along the way, you must strive to be the healthiest player with the most stars by the end of the game!


1. Challenge cards

  • For games with 2 players, remove challenge cards that have a triangle in the corner indicating “3-4” or “5-6” players. 
  • For 3-4 players, add back in the cards labelled with “3-4”.
  • For 5-6 players, put all challenge cards in the deck. 

Shuffle the challenge cards and place them facedown in the center of the table. Draw the top three cards and place them face up on the table.

2. Event cards

Shuffle the event cards and place them facedown next to the challenge cards.

3. Resources

Place piles of insulin, candy, bread, and syringes within reach of all players at the center of the table.

4. Equipment and college readiness

Place pump, cgm, and ready for college cards faceup in their own piles next to the challenge cards.

5. Glucagon

Give each player a faceup glucagon card.

6. Play-order based boost resources

Determine the starting player by choosing the person who last ate some candy. Play will begin from that player and move clockwise. Since the starting player gets an advantage, give the following boosts to the players depending on their play order:

  • 1st: nothing
  • 2nd: nothing
  • 3rd: candy
  • 4th: candy
  • 5th: insulin and candy
  • 6th: insulin and candy


Let’s learn more about what each of the resources represents for a diabetic, and how they can be used in the game.


Used to overcome challenges with an insulin symbol. If player does not own a pump, they also need one syringe per insulin-requiring challenge overcome

Insulin is the hormone that allows sugar from the bloodstream to enter cells. Type 1 diabetics cannot make their own insulin, so when their blood sugar is high they have to take or inject insulin manually into their body.


Before owning a pump, you need one syringe per insulin-requiring challenge overcome

Without any other equipment (such as a pump), a syringe is needed to inject insulin into the body.


Used to overcome challenges with a candy symbol

Because diabetics also cannot release their own sugar stores when their blood sugar is low, they need to eat simple sugars like candy that will boost their blood sugar back up.


Used to overcome challenges with a candy symbol, but is worth ½ candy

Complex carbohydrates like those found in bread break down slowly and are less effective at treating low blood sugar quickly, so it is only half as useful as candy in this game.


An emergency resource that can be used once per game to help overcome a challenge

Like insulin, glucagon is another hormone that diabetics can’t make. It’s usually injected in emergency situations when the diabetic is passed out and can’t eat sugar to help remedy a low blood sugar.


Let’s learn more about what each of the resources represents for a diabetic, and how they can be used in the game.


For challenges that require insulin, you no longer need to pay a syringe

A pump allows a diabetic to feed insulin into their body through an infusion site mounted somewhere on their body (usually abdomen or buttocks). Because it’s directly attached to the body, you no longer need syringes! Yay!

CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor)

When used with a pump, all challenges are discounted by one candy

A CGM is also attached to the body and is constantly reading blood sugar. When it communicates this to a pump via bluetooth, the pump can make adjustments that prevent low blood sugar! So you can avoid having to eat so much candy to remedy lows 🙂




Players take turns completing actions, beginning with the determined starting player and moving clockwise. On your turn you can complete any one of the following actions:

Collect resources

  • You can take EITHER three different resources (eg candy, insulin, and syringe) or two of the same resource (eg insulin, insulin)

Draw an event card

  • If the effect described is related to stars, immediately include the card in your overall star count—for example, if you get -1 star but have no stars, then you would be at -1 stars after drawing the event card
  • For cards not related to stars, the effect described on the card also takes effect immediately. However, if the conditions are not met – for example if you get -1 insulin but have no insulin to lose—then the event card has no effect, but still counts towards your overall challenge count.

Overcome a challenge

  • Overcome the challenge written on the card by spending the quantity of resources marked on the card.
  • IMPORTANT: if you do not have a pump yet (and nobody should at the start of the game), you need to pay one syringe to overcome any challenge that includes insulin
    • ex: a challenge says 3 insulin, 3 stars. A player without a pump would need to give up 3 insulin and 1 syringe resource to overcome the challenge.
  • Read the challenge out loud when you overcome it so everyone can learn!

Upgrade to get a pump or CGM

  • You need the number of stars indicated on each piece of equipment in order to upgrade to that equipment. You do not lose the stars when you upgrade.

Claim readiness for college!

  • If you have the number of challenges and events specified on the ready for college card, you can prove to your parents that you are ready for college on your own!
  • The first player who is ready for college receives the most points, and it decreases from there (8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1) 

At any point during the turn, in addition to an action, the player may also:

  • Take a faceup challenge from the table and recycle it back to a random position in the challenge deck, replacing it with a new one from the top of the deck
  • TIP: this might be used to try and get a better challenge card that you can overcome right away, or to block another player from overcoming a challenge!


The game ends when every player has claimed and achieved readiness for college, or when all challenge cards have been overcome.

The player with the most stars at this time is the winner! Ties are broken by who has more challenges overcome, then who has experienced more events, then who has more leftover resources.

Game pieces

Download the printable version of the game and cut out all the cards and pieces along the lines in order to have all the required game pieces.

Download diabejeez printable cards


Before playing the game, I asked participants to tell me what they already knew about type 1 diabetes, and what challenges people with the disease might face. Afterwards, I asked the same question, mainly seeing if there were any new challenges or things they were surprised about after playing the game.


Version 1

The first version was an extremely rough prototype made from index cards. I had all the same resources, but the overall goal was just to get the most stars by the end.

Game details:

  • pump and cgm cost 5 stars each
  • game is over when all challenge cards are gone
  • recycling a card takes up a turn
  • no boosts for non-starting players


Sterling, Liv, Eli, Jess, and me. They are all coterm students and everyone except Eli had known me and my diabetic condition before playing the game, so they came in with a little context on diabetes already.

I noticed that blocking by recycling challenges occurred a few times, and actually allowed Eli to move up to 2nd place since he got lucky and managed to recycle a big ticket challenge in a way that benefitted him.

I found that they seemed to learn a lot more through my extended explanations and personal stories using the challenge card text as a starting point, so I wanted to make the stories on the challenge cards more detailed in the next iteration. Most of the learnings they stated also came from event cards (like going to annual eye exams or needing to refrigerate insulin), which was interesting.

Feedback from this playthrough:

  • blocking people through recycling the cards can be fun
  • there isn’t much incentive to get a pump or cgm because it costs too much
  • function of bread is confusing

Version 2

In this version I mainly tried to incentivize upgrading to a pump or cgm by making them less expensive and by introducing more challenge cards that require a pump or cgm. I also upped the fidelity of the prototype.

Game details:

  • higher fidelity cards
  • typed up more details in stories
  • more cgm/pump required cards
  • made cgm/pump cost less, 4 stars each instead of 5

(sorry that it’s sideways oops)


Jean (a phd student), Rachel (an undergrad), David (an undergrad), Maya (a graduate student), and Shana

Since this group didn’t know each other well, they didn’t try to block each other as rampantly as my first group, who were all friends. Everyone also played quite cautiously and mainly just collected resources and avoided the event cards. Because of this the whole thing was a bit robotic and tiring – get resources, make purchases, repeat.

Feedback from this playthrough:

  • There is a lack of motivation and agency, so gameplay becomes bored and automatic
  • There is no incentive to take event cards, especially since the good ones don’t even boost you up very much
  • It seems disadvantageous to upgrade to a pump or cgm because you lose the stars that you invested into the upgrade
  • Recycling a card seems disadvantageous as well because it uses up your turn and you don’t know if it will really help you

Version 3

This version adds a new goal – showing your parents that you’re prepared for college! I kept the notion of stars, but having an extra goal gives more motivation for players to take event cards, and gives a greater sense of needing to make decisions between which requirements to fulfill first, and how you can compete with other players to get ready for college first.

I also made it possible to recycle a card for free rather than it taking up your whole turn, which added a sense of control and discovery for players who were hoping for a new helpful challenge card.

Game details:

  • added goal of preparing for college to create a stronger sense of motivation
  • made events a requirement to prepare for college goal
  • pump and cgm no longer cost stars, they just require you to have a certain amount to upgrade – no longer disincentivizes upgrading
  • you can recycle a card for free on your turn instead of it costing an action, to promote blocking others / helping yourself by looking for better challenges
  • event cards more drastically impactful (both positive and negative)
  • added colors to icons!


Goutham, Vicky, and me

It felt like it moved a bit quicker with less people. With the required event cards, it was a lot more interesting! I got to steal a challenge card from Vicky which let me beat her out where she used to be in the lead. Recycling cards also brought up interesting situations; for example Vicky couldn’t overcome any challenges, but then recycled a challenge and got the big ticket glucagon challenge and got 6 stars that turn, which was unexpected and exciting.

We also ended the game when everyone prepared for college. I think this is an interesting new way to end the game, because the last person could keep playing for stars and end the game whenever they want by taking the prepare for college action.

Feedback from this playthrough:

  • they liked the goal of going to college
  • they liked the idea of ending the game when everyone is ready for college before going through all the challenge cards
  • the game felt balanced in that everything felt achievable but not too easy
  • wording on challenge cards is unclear that you are using the resources to overcome the challenge specified – seems more negative than a triumphant overcoming 
  • sometimes taking resources felt boring – wish there was something more to it so it feels less like farming

Future versions

Taking feedback from the last playtest, I would love to:

  • change wording on challenge cards to make them feel positive, and emphasize that you are overcoming them with the resources you have
  • end game when everyone is prepared for college
  • potentially play around with chance (like rolling a dice) when collecting resources to make it more exciting

Print at home!

Click the link below to download all the pieces you will need to play! Just cut them out on the black lines.

Download diabejeez printable cards

About the author

Always ready to play!


  1. Great work! Love the thought you put into this and the way you proactively refined the game after every playtest!

    If you decide to expand on this project in the future, it would be useful to hear more about how people performed on your learning assessments test, like whether they learned anything new or developed a greater sense of empathy for type 1 diabetics!

    Also, I agree with all your future directions—in particular, rolling dice to determine your resource “allowance” for a turn sounds like a fun idea! Another variation that constrains resources might be to give people a fixed “budget” of how many resources they can have at once.

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