Viruscraft is a Wellcome Trust funded research project combining tangible interfaces, craft and computer games to explore the work of evolutionary biologist Ben Longdon, who is finding out what determines the ability of a virus to infect some hosts but not others.
Viruses created by players will jump between species on a ‘small planet’ with layers representing ecological niches (treetops, ground, aquatic) populated by different species of interacting hosts. Virus host shifts will depend on the ecological interactions and relatedness of hosts. Players will be able to mutate and compete their viruses to see how natural selection shapes virus evolution.
We launched with a workshop in April 2017 to co-research virus genetics and structure, and use craft approaches to explore ways of building modifiable viral structures for informing the tangible interface design.
The project runs from 2016-2021 and is funded by the Wellcome Trust. Additional funding has been provided by the Cultivator Skills Development Programme (the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council).