Sometimes scientific investigation yields something more than meaningful insights into the world. Mathematical models in biology can be fascinating and aesthetically pleasing, and some computer games, apart from being very addictive, can educate people and advance research. Mathematical models and games are deeply interconnected, because in biology we often want to model using computers different types of “games” happening in nature – the competition for various resources (food, mating partners, etc.) being the obvious example.
In this article, we will examine a few notable biological games. The first two examples are not really games as we usually think of them – you don’t play, but rather watch what happens as the game plays itself! This is exactly how we think of life, where organisms live, evolve, and die without outside intervention. Games can help us see how complex patterns and behaviors emerge from a set of seemingly simple rules.