Biotic Games Collective at Biodesign Here Now, London Design Festival 2018

Biotic Games Collective: Raphael Kim, Roland van Dierendonck, Jan-Maarten Luursema, Wim van Eck, and Michael Sedbon will present works in the field of Biotic Games: a hybrid game that integrates living matter into video games. Open Cell, 15-23 September 2018, as part of London Design Festival.

1. Mould Rush by Raphael Kim

Mould Rush. Image by Raphael Kim

Mould Rush a slow, online multiplayer strategy game, played over several days. As the microbes grow and propagate, their growth patterns are live-streamed onto Mould Rush Game Channel on, where the gameplay takes place. Every game, or ʻcampaignʼ, is played in a completely unique landscape, formed by a seemingly-random nature in which microbial communities form and interact with each other. They help us to immerse ourselves in an alternative or parallel world, not shaped by computer simulations, but by real microbial jungles, grown by the tangible biological processes.

2. Euglena Spaceship & The Euglenizer by Roland van Dierendonck

Euglena Spaceship. Image by Roland van Dierendonck

Euglena Spaceships is a microscopy kit for real-time interaction with microbes. Open source software lets you build your own biotic own game around the light-sensitive, LED-steerable organism, Euglena gracilis. The device is shaped like a spaceship, in honour of the first computer game, Spacewar! Games have changed the way we interact with technology, and in this age of biotechnology, it is time to embrace the innovative power of gaming in the context of biological systems. The kit was developed together with Christian Schulz and Pieter van Boheemen (Waag), with mentoring by Ingmar Riedel-Kruse (Stanford University), and used in various workshops and exhibitions. The Euglenizer is part of on-going research into utilizing euglena movement for sound modulation and image manipulation. The Euglenizer is a synthesizer influenced by live microscopy images, which was displayed as part of Semiotics of the Laboratory group project at Ars Electronica 2017.

3. Slime Mold Andi by Jan-Maarten Luursema

Slime Mold Andi. Image by Jan-Maarten Luursema

The slime mold is a remarkable creature, showing intelligent behavior in the absence of a nervous system. As such, many researchers believe it can get bored and in fact it will often try to escape the biolab, looking for adventure. To keep the slime mold in his life entertained, and to learn more of its rich inner life, Jan-Maarten Luursema designed an environment that allows him and other interested people to have a conversation with this organism. Slime Mold Andi turns out to be a very engaging conversationalist, and Jan-Maarten helped it set up a
Twitter (@slimemoldAndi) and a Medium account to share its thoughts with the world.

4. Incubating Worlds by Wim van Eck

Incubating Worlds. Image by Wim van Eck

Incubating Worlds utilizes the live growth of fungi and bacteria to generate virtual worlds that evolve in real-time. Natural growth phenomena such as fractals are often simulated when procedurally generating landscape terrains for gaming. Similarly, growth patterns of bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis can resemble the structures of mountain ranges as seen on satellite imagery in a remarkable way. In Incubating Worlds, instead of simulating fractal-like phenomena, we utilize the actual growth of bacteria and fungi, as captured on the spot by means of scanography, to generate virtual worlds that grow -literally- in an organic manner. The project implements a hybrid system that couples biological and digital processes to create unique and navigable 3-dimensional worlds. These worlds are to be casually explored: It follows that the project creates immersion predominantly by means of vision. Incubating Worlds implements an alternate world that merges the virtual and the physical as well as the biological and the simulated. The emerging worlds are virtual, computer-generated environments that transform a microscopic ecosystem into a perceptible and navigable world within our reach. In addition to being unique, evolving and ever-changing, these worlds allow us to engage with a living system that is in fact left on its own devices: environmental conditions, the composition of the culture and the time factor are left unregulated. In a sense, what is being captured, rendered and experienced is the logic and force of life uncontained. At the same time a novel connection between technologies, algorithmic processes and living, human and non-human, beings is facilitated.

5. C t r l by Michael Sedbon

C t r l. Image by Michael Sedbon

In this work 10 Physarums Polycephalum, also known as slime molds, play
The Game of Life. This system has been designed to monitor and control the Physarum’s activity. At the end of each round, the Physarum’s moves are analyzed. The system then manipulates the environment to optimize their games. Ctrl questions the concept of the Infocene: our current cultural era where information is the force which has the greatest impact on human societies and environments. How far has the Infocene gone and what is our relationship to artificial intelligence?