The Competition

The purpose of this first contest on open-endedness is to highlight the progress in algorithms that can create novel and increasingly complex artefacts. While most experiments in open-ended evolution have so far focused on simple toy domains, we believe Minecraft -with its almost unlimited possibilities- is the perfect environment to study and compare such approaches. While other popular Minecraft competitions, like MineRL, have an agent-centric focus, in this competition the goal is to directly evolve Minecraft builds.

As part of this competition, we introduce the EvoCraft API. EvoCraft is implemented as a mod for Minecraft that allows clients to manipulate blocks in a running Minecraft server programmatically through an API. The framework is specifically developed to facilitate experiments in artificial evolution. The competition framework also supports the recently added "redstone" circuit components in Minecraft, which allowed players to build amazing functional structures, such as bridge builders, battle robots, or even complete CPUs. Can an open-ended algorithm running in Minecraft discover similarly complex artefacts automatically?

If you want to get familiar with the notion of open-ended algorithms, this is a good starting point: Open-endedness: The last grand challenge you’ve never heard of.


Use the EvoCraft API to build your open-ended algorithm that is capable of endlessly generating interesting Minecraft creations. You will find the instructions on how to use it on the API readme.

Each submission must contain:

  • Algorithm description: brief description of your algorithm.
  • Code to your open-ended algorithm. This may be a link to a GitHub/GitLab repository or a Google Colab notebook.
  • Video demostrating the Minecraft creations that emerge from running your algorithm. The video length may be up to maximum 5 minutes. This may be in the form of a link to YouTube or any video hosting plataform. The video should demonstrate that the algorithm can create diverse and increasingly complex artefacts (i.e. showing artefacts from initial and final generations, showing phylogenetic lineages, etc.).
Use the Submission Form to submit to the competition. If your algorithm requires some special setup to demonstrate its open-endedness, get in touch with us and we'll do our best to help.

Deadline for submission is June 1st, 2021. Winners will be announced during GECCO 2021 conference on July 10th.

Evaluation Criteria

Submission will be evaluated by a panel of independent researchers based on -but not restricted to- the following criteria:

Open-ended algorithms are not expected to slow down or converge but rather keep expanding and generating more complex outputs over time.

Does the algorithm produce entities with strong phenotypic diversity? Both in term of morphology and potentially in terms of functionality (eg. can the algorithm come up with several ways of building flying machines?)

Can the algorithm produce complex entities or entities interactions that give rise to complex systems? Are hierarchical and modular structures present?

Ecological interactions
Do the created entities interact with each other? Do we observe predactory or symbotic interactions (mutualism, parasitism, etc.) of any form? These interactions may be entity-entity but also entity-environment.

Life-Like properties
Inspiration may be taken from other attributes of living systems. For instance: Autopoiesis: entities capable of reproducing and regulate their internal states aimed at maintaining conditions that allow them to survive and reproduce by creating its own parts and eventually further components, ultimately resulting in self-replicating machines. Resilience and adaptation: individuals that are resilient to perturbations of their environment -e.g. obstacles-, or in case of damages to their structure.

Evocraft CCTV

Winner solutions will be livestream on a dedicated Twitch channel


Paper coauthorship

A coauthorship in a paper presenting the submitted approaches deemed to be original and innovational for open-endedness.

Monetary awards

The best three submissions will be awarded the following prizes:

  Winner: 1000 USD

  First Runner-up: 500 USD

  Second Runner-up: 500 USD


Djordje Grbic

IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Rasmus Palm

IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Elias Najarro

IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Claire Glanois

Shanghai Jiao Tong - University of Michigan Joint Institute

Sebastian Risi

IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Jury board

David Ha

Google Brain

Lisa Soros

Cross Labs

Lana Sinapayen

Sony Computer Science Labs

Kenneth Stanley


Joel Lehman