Euglena Spaceships

(2016) A kit and workshop design for creating real-time interactive biotic games, combining hardware, software and biology.

When science meets games, it makes everyone´s eyes sparkle! Computer games are great fun and we all have our favourite games we played when we were kids, or even continue to play as grown-ups. But computer games have been more than just fun. Games have increased interest in computing, and playful tinkering projects have been a valuable source of innovation, and have changed the way we interact with technology. Now enter the 21st century, century of biotechnology. It is time to embrace the innovative power of gaming in the context of biological systems.

Euglena are light-sensitive organisms, and reorient their movement depending on light sources in their environment. By controlling 4 LEDs in the corners, a player can interact with them, and by using computer vision to track the cells, a virtual game layer can be added on top of the image. The design is in the shape of a spaceship in honour of the first game, Spacewar!.

In the future, education will become less linear as it is today, integrating different fields of research. Projects such as this one could open up this development, letting many individuals contribute to it and reflect on it. In these fast changing times, people need to keep on learning, adapting themselves to new knowledge and technology. This is made possible by the open source sharing of designs and experiments through the internet.

The open source materials of the kit can be found on Github (http://bioticgamesatwaag.github.io/), including instruction videos, bills of materials, laser cut templates and Processing code for the “Dodge the Euglena” demo game.

The instruction videos are also on YouTube:

In collaboration with Christian Schulz, Pieter van Boheemen at Waag’s Open Wetlab.
Advisor: Ingmar Riedel-Kruse (Stanford University)
Special thanks to the Campus Party workshop crew: Federico Muffatto, Frido Emans & Xiamyra Daal.
Euglena Spaceships logo design: Quentin Laloux

Euglena Spaceships was workshopped and exhibited at Campus Party (Utrecht), NightScience (Paris), International Festival of Technology (Delft), Paris NightScience, Petshop (Amsterdam), UCL (London), Cutting Edge Festival (Oslo), Biofabricate (New York), National Interdisciplinary Education Congress (Amsterdam), and BBK Open Science (Bilbao).
It was awarded with the first prize at the National Interdisciplinary Education Congress 2017