The perfect videogame for people into stargazing

I like to dream about space—the flowering alien plant life light years away from Earth, the planets circling a big burning star rivaling our sun. It’s water on Mars and planets made up of swirling gas that I think about, too. I’ll conjure up in my mind the planets lurking just beyond our solar system’s reach, though some day I won’t have to: in January, planetary scientists Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown discovered evidence of what they believe is a Neptune-sized planet that orbits our sun every 15,000 years: Planet X. Unlike me, Batygin and Brown are actually searching for new planets—perhaps to make…


A videogame to help you understand your body

Joseph Perry, also known as Wick, has a background in biology; in particular, he’s studied neurotransmitter triggers in frog brains. He’s particularly interested in biological neural networks called central pattern generators—a rhythmic output system responsible, in part, for many movement and breathing functions. “It’s an important concept for understanding any kind of behavior,” Perry told me, “but nitty-gritty brain stuff is usually treated like a black box.” That’s where Crescent Loom comes in. “I’m hoping to pull back the curtain and show that some of the fundamental principles of the brain aren’t actually too hard to understand—and to engineer,” Perry added. Described…


Here it is, the game that Spore was supposed to be

In 2005, when the initial tech demo for Spore (2008) came out, players salivated. Here was a realistic life simulator letting you shape and follow the evolution of a universe—from a creature’s humble beginnings in its cellular stage to galactic exploration and colonization. As with Powers of Ten, the 1977 documentary that inspired the game, Spore promised to let players experience the vastness and interconnected nature of the universe. When the game was finally released in 2008, those who clamored for realism were left disappointed. The game shifted away from its “scientifically accurate” nature instead favoring a more simplified and “cute”…

Reaction Time test

Videogame guesses your age based on your reaction times

It’s commonly thought that one of the biggest contributors to skill is practice. So, it should follow that plenty of the best competitive videogame champions are older, having had more time to hone their skills. But this isn’t the case at all. Joe Hanson investigates this curiosity in a recent episode of the PBS Digital Studios series It’s Okay To Be Smart, asking “are older gamers at some disadvantage? Are their brains already over the hill?” shortest lag between moving to a different section of a map and action is found at age 24 Hanson explains that in StarCraft 2…


How scientists are using MMOs to study sexism in videogames

For the past few years, one of the more common debates to be found on social media has been over whether women are discriminated against within videogames. This can relate to a number of factors, including skill, female presence in the community, and how women are represented within games, but conversations in these topics are often noticeably hostile and difficult to conduct. However, recent scientific studies on the topic have provided new insight into if and how discrimination presents a problem for women in and around videogames, as well as what difficulties sexism in games poses for women in tech in…


The Lion’s Song aims to depict the loneliness of history’s greatest minds

Originally created as a short title for a 2014 Ludum Dare game jam, old-timey narrative adventure game The Lion’s Song is now getting a full release. According to a new trailer for the game, four episodes are planned in total, expanding it beyond the “finely honed short story” of the original and into an extended interrogation of academic life in fin-de-siecle Austria. The game stars three different turn-of-the-century artists and scientists as they struggle to find inspiration and learn how to cope with the pressures of success, as well as those of their time period. “To succeed in a world of…


Exploring the mind-bending science of 4D in Miegakure

Videogames have always existed as multidimensional. Whether we were bouncing a ball from side-to-side in the perpetually flat, 2D Pong (1972), or playing as fully-realized 3D people, queueing up to learn how to shoot one another. It has always been us: 3D humans, observing multi-dimensional projections from a 2D screen. In a recent development update from Marc ten Bosch’s highly-anticipated puzzle game Miegakure, Bosch speaks of the science behind his foray into the unknown dimension of 4D. In Miegakure, the player bends reality in order to solve puzzles. In the developer’s scientific-based vlog update on the game, Bosch said, “What you…


Fighting game will pit Darwin against Tesla in brutal fisticuffs

Science Kombat, an upcoming newsgame created by Fred Di Giacomo Rocha and Otavio Cohen from Brazil’s Superinteressante science and culture magazine, aims to teach players about some of history’s greatest minds not by handing them a dry quiz, but by having a select group of notable scientists beat the crap out of each other in one-on-one fights. It’s education by way of the WWE, hearkening to playground debates of who-would-win versus battles more than classroom lectures, and the result is a game that aims to be both educational and yet also features Albert Einstein shooting people with lasers. In the style of…

Y02SumMovieJ - For FriMag - THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE - David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles from the legendary television series as, respectively, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Photo credit: Diyah Pera/© 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Maximum width 80.91 picas at 200 dpi. 4/28/08

The glorious return of The X-Files, TV’s greatest science show

There was one point in my life where I thought about becoming a member of the FBI. In the months prior to my graduation from college, I had decided that I could put the 200+ hours that I had invested into The X-Files to good use. Of course, after I learned of the trials and tribulations one had to go through to get there (like a fitness test, and the ability to overcome the fear of being near a gun), my weak noodle arms and I dropped the idea. I also played with the idea of becoming a Ufologist for a…