Mould Rush

Traditional strategy games are cool, but how real is the game beyond the monitor? Mould Rush is a live-streamed strategy game that allows the players to have a real-life battle with fungus, bacteria, and other microbes. Four researchers from the UK and the Netherlands created Mould Rush in 2018, finding that technology is bridging the digital divide between online reality and tangible realities. Bacteria or fungus grows on a heated pad and scanner in a confined plastic box, with tubes dispensing either stimulus or chemicals, which are the means by which teams can attack the opponent. The scanner shows where the fungus and bacteria are growing and breaks up the “battlefield” into a grid similar to that of a chessboard. Unlike traditional online strategy games, the battle takes place slowly, since the medium cannot change instantaneously and in order to actually deliver attacks, a moderator has to dispense the germicide, bleach, or physically remove them with a scalpel. When the makers did a live steam twitch of the game in 2018, thousands tuned in to watch the gameplay out, so there is certainly some interest, either for the concept or the sheer novelty of the experience. There exists an ethical dilemma in using live organisms in pursuit of entertainment, even if bacteria and fungus arguably aren’t conceptualized as having any sentience. But this is also a question that the game creators wanted humanity to confront: is it ever ok to co-opt life for the purposes of entertainment? Such questions apply well beyond the game and will be asked time and again as science, life, and entertainment continue to merge.

KALEIDOSCOPE. “In this age of biotechnology, enter the era of Biotic Games: What happens if computer science and biology mix?


Aesthetic/Leisure, Monitoring, Psychology, Visual Technologies