Command & Contaminate? Designing Games with Remote-Controlled Micro-organisms

Workshop Call for Participation

In recent years, video games that integrate real biological entities such as micro-organisms have been becoming increasingly popular. Yet the notion of connecting such games through the Internet, whereby players can remotely-control microbes and observe their behaviours in real-time online, is relatively uncommon. In this two-part hands-on workshop, we explore this gap through gaming and speculative design. We ask questions regarding the present and the future of connected microbial gaming: How are microbes currently connected online, and what are the future possibilities?

In the first half of this hands-on 1-day workshop, participants will be introduced to an online, real-time strategy game called ‘Command & Contaminate’. It involves remote control of Cyanobacteria called Synechocystis which are located in London and Amsterdam. Using the game as an inspiration, second half of the workshop will focus on speculative design methods to prototype a fictional game which will be used as a prop for further discussions on the significance of human-microbial interactions, as well as ethical implications they may bring.

Interested parties should submit a 2-page position paper in the SIGCHI extended abstracts format that discuss their interest in any one of the following themes:

  1. Technologies to support playful interactions involving non-human living entities (e.g. animals/plants/microbes).
  2. Game design and development of biotechnologically-mediated games.
  3. Methods or models for evaluating novel games.
  4. Opportunities or challenges in DIY Biology: Ethical, practical and safety-related.
  5. Speculative Design as a tool for debate.
  6. Impact of IoT in specialist games

All queries and submissions should be forwarded to with the subject line ‘DIS 2018 Workshop’. 

Important Dates:

4 May 2018       Participant submission deadline*
11 May 2018      Acceptance notification
10 June 2018     Workshop (bring smartphone or laptop)

* Extensions happily considered. Just notify organiser that you are intending to submit