Build Conway's Game of Life With Python

Build Conway's Game of Life With Python
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Wouldn’t it be cool to build a Python game that only requires initial user input and then seems to take on a mind of its own, creating mesmerizing patterns along the way? You can do exactly that with Conway’s Game of Life, which is about the evolution of cells in a life grid.

Implementing the Game of Life algorithm is a good exercise with many interesting challenges that you’ll have to figure out. Specifically, you’ll need to build the life grid and find a way to apply the game’s rules to all the cells on the grid so that they evolve through several generations.

In this tutorial, you’ll:

  • Implement Conway’s Game of Life algorithm with Python
  • Build a curses view to display the Game of Life grid
  • Create an argparse command-line interface for the game
  • Set up the game app for installation and execution

To get the most out of this tutorial, you should know the basics of writing object-oriented code in Python, creating command-line interface (CLI) apps with argparse, and setting up a Python project.

You can download the complete source code and other resources for this project by clicking the link below:

Demo: Conway’s Game of Life With Python

In this tutorial, you’ll implement Conway’s Game of Life for your command line using Python. Once you’ve run all the steps to build the game, then you’ll end up with a fully working command-line app.

The demo shows how the app works and walks you through the evolution of multiple life patterns or seeds, which define the game’s initial state and work as starting points for evolving the cells in the life grid:

Throughout this tutorial, you’ll run through several challenges related to the game’s algorithm and also to writing and setting up a command-line application in Python. At the end, you’ll have a Game of Life app that will work like the demo above.

Project Overview

The Game of Life by the British mathematician John Horton Conway isn’t a game in the traditional sense. In technical terms, it’s a cellular automaton, but you can think of Game of Life as a simulation whose evolution depends on its initial state and doesn’t require further input from any players.

The game’s board is an infinite, two-dimensional grid of cells. Each cell can be in one of two possible states:

  1. Alive
  2. Dead

Each cell evolves to the next generation depending on the state of itself and its neighbor cells. Here’s a summary of the evolution rules:

  1. Alive cells die if they have fewer than two (underpopulation) or more than three living neighbors (overpopulation).
  2. Alive cells stay alive if they have two or three living neighbors.
  3. Dead cells with exactly three living neighbors become alive (reproduction).

The game’s initial state is the seed, or initial life pattern. In this implementation, the life pattern will be a set of alive cells. The first generation results from applying the above rules to every cell in the seed. The second generation results from applying the rules to the first generation, and so on. So, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one.

The challenge in this project is to program the evolution algorithm in Python and then provide a command-line interface (CLI) to run the game with different life patterns.


The project that you’ll build in this tutorial will require familiarity with general Python programming and especially with object-oriented programming. So, you should have basic knowledge of the following topics:

However, if you don’t have all this knowledge yet, then that’s okay! You might learn more by going ahead and giving the project a shot. You can always stop and review the resources linked here if you get stuck.

With this short overview of your Game of Life project and its prerequisites, you’re ready to start Pythoning. Have fun while coding!

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November 22, 2023 at 07:30PM
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