Conways Game of Life

At GDC 2012 I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Moriarty from Worcester Polytech. He was conducting a panel on Game Design Education and introduced me to a tool (a “gameclavier” as he calls it: an instrument for studying and composing digital games) call Perlenspiel. This game engine focuses on ultra low graphic grids to make tools, toys, and games. The engine is written using HTML 5 and Javascript and focuses on solid game design over uber-tech. After seeing Brian’s presentation, I wanted to work with the Perlenspiel engine. I decided to make an HTML version of Conway’s Game of Life (of which I am a big fan).

Conway’s Game of Life is a cell automation procedure which (to me at least) has a much deeper meaning than the simple rules it represents. To me, Conway’s Game shows that system will always find homeostasis (balance). It also shows me that often it is the simple patterns that are the most complex, and seeming chaos is actually very structured. Here are the rules taken straight from the Wiki on Conway’s Game:

The universe of the Game of Life is an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time, the following transitions occur:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

The initial pattern constitutes the seed of the system. The first generation is created by applying the above rules simultaneously to every cell in the seed—births and deaths occur simultaneously, and the discrete moment at which this happens is sometimes called a tick (in other words, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one). The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

There are not many images to show as this is a very simple game. You can click the picture or go here to play the game.

Source code can be found here.