Game of Life Design

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This is a simulation based on John Conway's Game of Life according to three simple rules. Each cell looks around in its Moore neighborhood (that is, its 8 immediate neighbors) and decide whether to stay in the same state, become alive, or die according to how many alive neighbors it has:

  • if at least 2 of the neighboring cells are alive, stay what you are
  • if at least 3 of the neighboring cells are alive, become alive
  • otherwise, die



  • Science
  • Computer Science (cellular automata)


  • Open the existing worksheets in AgentSheets or in the Java applet and run them. Observe how the cell population evolves over time.
  • Create new worksheets and populate them with cells using the Draw Rectangle tool.
  • Make sure that there is a Ticker agent - the clock - in every worksheet you create or run.
  • Click on the Ticker agent with the Hand tool to randomize the distribution of dead and alive cells or use the Draw (pencil) tool to toggle the cells from dead to alive or vice versa and create your own starting configurations. Run your worksheet and observe what is happening. Can you see any patterns emerging?
  • Create new worksheets with stable or oscillating populations. What does it take to create them? Can you find some patterns?
  • Get inspired by the examples of patterns in Game of Life wikipedia entry.

Related Links

For more information on Conway's Game of Life, visit the following web sites with articles on the subject.

Computational Thinking Patterns

  • Perceive/act synchronization: allow all agents to evaluate their situation in the same step and act in the next one.