Excel VBA Simulation: The Game of Life


This past spring I participated in one of the MOOC courses that was offered on Coursera. In one of the lectures I was introduced to the “Game of Life” model/simulation. Once I saw it, I just couldn’t resist creating it in Excel.

The Game of Life

What is the Game of Life? Here the Wikipedia entry:

The Game of Life, also known simply as Life, is a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970.The “game” is a zero-player game, meaning that its evolution is determined by its initial state, requiring no further input. One interacts with the Game of Life by creating an initial configuration and observing how it evolves.

The rules of the game are as follows:

The universe of the Game of Life is an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, alive or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time, the following transitions occur:

· Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.

· Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.

· Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.

· Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

Excel VBA Simulation of The Game of Life

My own version of the game of life is somewhat more restricted then that described by Wikipedia, in that my “world” consists of a 20 x 20 grid of cells. For the purpose of recreating the game I was satisfied with this size, but we could easily make it larger.

Enjoy playing around with it!