Play the challenging game version of Conway's Game of Life! Manipulate individual cells in the arrangements to cause them to multiply or disappear. Learn more!
In case you haven't heard of it, there's this fascinating simulation thing called the Game of Life, by John Horton Conway. You click around to add cells to a big grid, hit a button, and watch how they evolve. There are some basic rules, such as "cells with fewer than 2 live neighbors die" and "dead cells become live if they have exactly 3 live neighbors." There are a variety of common shapes and patterns that occur and move in certain ways.
We took that idea and turned it into a systems thinking game for the Institute of Play. We had an excellent design tool and gave the player goals to reach. You approached a preset arrangement of cells and had to change the arrangement (within parameters) in order to have a certain outcome happen once you hit 'go.' It's reminiscent of the classic game Lights Out.
Creating the levels was like playing a game all in itself. We had to become familiar with the rules of how the cells behaved so we could build interesting arrangements, and then come up with a challenge for the player do with those arrangements.
A Lesson Learned...
Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel to get a great game. Plenty of games use elements from real life systems and interactions and put their own twist on it. Don't worry about 'copying' an idea that's already been though if you can bring a new perspective to it.