Some insects form complex social groups, and the behaviours underlying these social groups are influenced both by the species' genetics and the environment that they live in.
Together with Dr. Seirian Sumner at University College London, we designed and made a game that allows people to build their own wasp society, toying with the limits of biology. Seirian wrote about her experience working together in this lovely blog post.
Players take on the persona of Polistes dominula, the European paper wasp, making life choices about where and how quickly to build a nest, how to allocate colony members to different jobs, and balancing the tasks of bringing in food, brood production and care. When environmental catastrophes hit, parasites arrive, or humans put you at risk, the resilience of the colony will be tested.
The game is 100% hand illustrated and open source, and you can play it online.
The game is also available on Itch (4.7/5 stars). It has been exhibited at the Eden Project, Glasgow Science Centre, and the Royal Entomological Society's Insect Week, and featured as 'App of the week' in The Week Junior (see clip below!).
This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and was developed collaboratively as part of a 'Pathways to Impact' on a research grant. There are also further images from the game development process available.