Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: Kerbal Space Program

Be Interested In More Than Just Games

Teaching in a game design school it’s not rare to find students who only care about games. I make sure to tell these students that the most important thing to do is to care about something outside of the world of games. Most look at me confused. We’re at a game design school after all.

Without exception, the students who have interests outside of games are the ones who make the neatest projects and tend to have the most success after graduation. The topic of the interests don’t matter so much as that they exist.

Over at Vox there’s an article titled Buzzfeed’s founder used to write Marxist theory and it explains Buzzfeed perfectly. The article lives up to the title, it’s a good read and shows that being interested in fields outside of your primary one is a worthwhile venture.

You never know where a path of inquiry will lead.

So where did Peretti get that idea? Peretti’s academic writings offer one clue. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 1996, Peretti published an article in the cultural theory journal Negations entitled “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution.” After the paper was mentioned in New York’s Peretti profile, Critical-Theory.com’s Eugene Wolters read through it, and found that it more or less lays out (and critiques) Buzzfeed’s entire business model—a full decade before the company was founded.

Study Marx and start a million dollar website.

There are other ways that a variety of interests can manifest themselves. Maybe you love games and you also love space, or orbital mechanics. Then you get Kerbal Space Program.

XKCD

And who knows, maybe combining two fields you love will eventually get you to work with NASA.

The success of the game hadn’t gone unnoticed. In March 2013, Squad received an intriguing tweet: “Interested in exploring an asteroid with us?” It was from Nasa, and after a year of cooperation, the Kerbal team was able to implement the real-life Asteroid Redirect Mission into its game. Players can now experiment with a genuine space programme, using Nasa rocket parts. “It’s been a truly amazing experience,” says Falanghe. “When we first started, we had very little help from experts, save what we could research on our own. For us, it was a great learning experience – none of us in the team have any formal background in aerospace or any related field.”

Space or Marx may not be your thing, perhaps running is. There are tons of “gamified” services and apps out there that encourage you to be fit, but what about an app that makes you run to defend your territory? It exists: Run an Empire. From an article about the game:

The beauty of Run An Empire is that the game requires a balance between maintaining the security of a home base while also compelling players to attempt to intrude and capture other players’ territories by running further and longer, making the habit of running less a task and more of a mission-based activity.

In the process neighborhood blocks become kingdoms, daily walks or runs become battles, and an element of strategic planning absent from typical running programs can make each mile felt earned, not endured.

So if you find yourself thinking about only games I encourage you to explore the rest of the world. Get out and explore the world around as reality is the game and games aren’t the only thing that matter in reality.

Video Game Rocket Science

Making games isn’t rocket science unless of course, it is. There are a lot of games that use rocket science to make a game, just check out Wikipedia’s category page of space simulators. Two rocket simulation games have come across my radar recently that I think are worth mentioning.

NASA’s Rocket Science 101

NASA’s most recent official foray into mixing rockets and games can be found in their game Rocket Science 101 which incorporates real missions into the sim. It’s designed for kids and does a good job of explaining what’s happening and why. One problem I have with this application is that there is no way to mess up meaning that it’s more of an interactive learning experience rather than a game.

RedOrbit has an article on the NASA game.

As well as the entertaining aspect of Rocket Science 101, the game provides users with a way to learn all about NASA’s thrilling missions and the various components of the rockets used in those missions, as well as how they are configured and how they work together to provide a successful launch. Game players will have a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of engineers at LSP, who do the same things for real missions at NASA every single day.

Kerbal Space Program

Now this is a game where you can screw up!

Kerbal Space Program (KSP) is challenging, very challenging. You need to construct a rocket then launch it with three kerbals (living things) aboard without blowing it up. In KSP you have to design and fly the rocket meaning that if you don’t know your flight angles then you’re going to run into problems. It’s so good that people at NASA play it.

KSP has a demo of an older version of the game that you can download and play at their site.

No matter what, it seems it’s a complicated process to get to the Moon (or the Mun):

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