Pac-Euglena: A Living Cellular Pac-Man Meets Virtual Ghosts

Amy T. Lam, Jonathan Griffin, Matthew Austin Loeun, Nate J. Cira, Seung Ah Lee, Ingmar H. Riedel-Kruse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


The advancement of biotechnology enabled the development of "biotic video games", where human players manipulate real biological samples for fun and educational human-biology interactions. However, new design principles are needed to both leverage and mitigate biological properties (e.g., variability and stochasticity), and create unique play experiences that transcend traditional video games. This paper describes the implementation of Pac-Euglena, a biotic Pac-Man analog, where players guide live microscopic Euglena cells with light stimuli through a physical microfluidic maze. Through use of multi-modal stimuli, a mixed biology-digital-human reality is achieved, enabling cell interactions with virtual ghosts and collectibles. Through an iterative design process, we illustrate challenges and strategies for designing games with living organisms. A user study (n=18, conducted at a university event) showed that Pac-Euglena was fun, stimulated curiosity, and taught users about Euglena. We conclude with five general guidelines for the design and development of biotic games and HBI interfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367080
StatePublished - Apr 21 2020
Event2020 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2020 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: Apr 25 2020Apr 30 2020

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2020 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • augmented reality
  • biological user interfaces
  • biotic games
  • euglena gracilis
  • human-biology interaction (hbi)
  • mixed reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Software


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