Check out Sparkfun’s Nokia 5510 LCD display. It’s both cheap and simple to use!
Sparkfun provides a great guide about how to wire the LCD here. The guide goes into detail about how to create bitmaps to display on the LCD. The program they use can be found here. The code that Sparkfun provides lets you display character, shapes, bitmaps, and even animations.
In this example, I decided to modify Sparkfun’s code and use a bitmap of Digilent’s logo to seed Conway’s Game of life.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can grab Digilent’s code here. This implementation of the game of life has been coded to be toroidal. This means anything that goes off one edge of the screen will come out on the opposite side. Below is a video of a glider gun that shoots itself in the back.
If you like, experiment with different bitmap images and see which ones seed the game of life best. You can also try creating bitmaps of the classic life patterns, like the pulsar described in the wiki.