If you’ve taken any Computer Science courses beyond the first few introduction courses, you’ve likely encountered Conway’s “Game of Life” simulation. In this game, a grid can have either colored or uncolored cells, representing living or dead organisms respectively. If a living cell has two or three living neighbors (cells in its immediate surroundings), it lives for another cycle of the grid. If the cell only has one or no neighbors, it dies of solidarity and becomes uncolored in the next cycle. Similarly it will die if it is overpopulated and has four or more neighbors.
If that didn’t really make sense, here’s a video explaining and demonstrating the basics of Conway’s Game of Life.
We decided that Conway’s Game of Life was kind of a metaphor for life in itself. A cell has to have the perfect amount of neighbors to remain healthy enough to survive. However, it felt too easy to just make our project metaphor “the game of life” or something to that effect. And we needed our project to be interactive as well, something much more than simply Conway’s Game of Life. We liked the idea and sound of running water or rain, and Saul was confident enough to make a patch which converted live video into an ongoing Game of Life.
Eventually our idea became something like this. A video of running water is converted into a Game of Life in Max. The viewer, using quick motions, can kill cells off. Behind the grid, living cells reveal a picture (we aren’t sure what picture quite yet). The game of life will continue playing if it is uninterrupted by a viewer. Our game itself is a metaphor for the statement “Life finds a way”. Below you can see a demo showing some of how it will work (thank you Saul!):
The sensory input is entirely through the camera currently but it would be easy to add an audio aspect as well. Personally I think it would be nice to have background music of rain or water. In addition, we could project our game onto a wall for a more interesting viewing experience.
In terms of research/tech we will need to finish putting our project together, we will need to videotape rain falling or running on a surface. We will also need to perfect having motion kill off cells in the game, and figure out how to place an image behind the game (and what image that should be). Finally we will need to figure out how we would like our project to be viewed.
Overall, we’re excited for this project!