Skip to main content
Geosciences LibreTexts

Game 4: Evolution with Selection

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    The Genome Evolution With Selection Game

    Educational Goal: Explore how different rules affect evolution.


    Several decks of cards need to be used.  Select 8 numbers (e.g. A, 2-8) to represent the different gene types, and separate them from several decks of cards. Put aside the other cards, just using the selected numbers.

    1. Each card number represents a different gene, and each suit represents a different version of the gene.
    2. Each player is an organism with 4 genes represented by 4 cards of different numbers as randomly drawn (e.g. A, 2, 5, 8).  Cards are placed face up on the table so all players can see them.
    3. To remain alive, a player has to have at least 2 genes of the same suit. (This rule vaguely mimics the need for genes that work together.) 
    4. Each player starts with 5 energy units (pennies).
    5. Each player records their path through the game, including number of energy units and play choices. Notes and observations should also be added about interesting events.

    Players can choose to change the rules in interesting ways.


    1. A card is turned over from the deck and is placed on the discard pile. This card represents a gene that brings beneficial function to any player with that number gene. 
      1. Each player with the gene number gets 1 energy unit per gene copy. 
      2. Each player without the gene number pays 1 energy unit.
      3. If a player lacks the gene number and has no energy left, they die.
    2. The players take turns doing one of the following:
      1. Draw a gene from the deck.
        1. If they hold that gene number, they exchange the new gene for the old one or they can buy a gene duplication for 2 energy units and keep both cards.
        2. If they do not like the mutation, they can buy out of it and discard the mutation for 1 energy unit. 
        3. If they do not hold the gene they drew, they can add it to their genome for 5 energy units.
      2. Choose a lateral gene transfer from one of the discard piles.
        1. If they hold that gene number, they exchange it for the one in their hand for 1 energy unit or they can duplicate the gene for 2 energy units.
        2. If they do not, they can pay 5 energy units to add it to their genome.
    3. Anyone who does not have two genes of the same suit dies.
    4. Everyone records their energy level and what happened to them during the round. Repeat.

    This page titled Game 4: Evolution with Selection is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dawn Sumner.

    • Was this article helpful?