Recently I came across an online game based on a simple cellular automaton model called orb.farm in which you have to design an enclosed ecosystem that supports plant, animal and bacterial life. It’s a little bit addictive and a lot of fun! Reminds me of a more sophisticated form of the Tamagotchi, but without the ridiculous waste of plastic, metal and electronics that inevitably comes with these kids’ crazes.
When I tweeted about this earlier in the week the most excitement was generated by some scientists who actually work in lake ecosystem ecology. They were very impressed! The occasional Easter Eggs that appear also keep you hooked. Helpfully, you can also close down your browser or computer and your ecosystem is still there when you open it up again.
Orb.farm is by Max Bittker and I hope that he develops it further. I can see it being used for some serious experiments as well as being educational and fun.