Space Jam: NASA Hosting A Game Jam This Weekend

By Nathan Grayson on March 6th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Mars, sans wars or logs.

When the eventual 87-volume book series about my life is written, there will be four tomes and one young adult fiction romance spinoff about stories I chose to write entirely because of headline pun potential. BUT HERE’S THE TWIST: this won’t be one of them. Much as I adore (and gladly take) every opportunity to reference Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny’s final career-defining blazes of glory, not even Space Jam can match my love for, er, space. So it’s basically amazing to see NASA using games to draw more attention to space exploration – especially in light of the fact that people seem determined to ignore it even though it’s perhaps literally the most interesting, mysterious, compelling thing in existence.

Dubbed Dark Side of the Jam, the main event will take place at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA, with satellite jams occurring wherever people are willing to host (currently Concord NH, Phoenix AZ, Winnipeg MB, Seattle WA, and San Luis Obispo CA). And of course, anyone can contribute from home. It’s set to run from March 8th to 10th and touts cookies. Also, planet-hopping tools that’ll inspire the collective human imagination for generations to come. The jam’s online space base lair explains:

“Welcome, Space Gamers, to the Dark Side! (We have cookies!) We’re working hard gathering models, props and technical experts who work for NASA to help feed your awesome imaginations and creativity to develop a whole new generation of great space and science based games.”

“It will be an awesome weekend to be inspired by NASA and each other, and show off what you can do with a computer, some time and a lot of caffeine.”

Dark Side’s a branch of the Night Rover Challenge, whose goal is – among other things, one of which involves a $1.5 million prize purse for energy storage technology – education. This isn’t actually the first time NASA’s reached a clammy, disarmingly adorable probe hand in our medium’s direction, either. Just last year, the sadly hamstrung titan of space travel released a free Xbox game called Mars Rover Landing.

Unfortunately, the main jam space is already full-up, but I’m incredibly interested to see what’ll end up coming out of this. And, you know, if one or two or 25 of them end up prominently featuring Michael Jordan or Bugs Bunny in some way, let’s just say I won’t be entirely displeased.

, , .

21 Comments »

  1. Fierce says:

    Awwww, thought I was going to be able to play NBA Jam against astronauts and NASA employees.

    This is neat too though.

    Oh! I hope someone does a Kerbel Space Program competition!

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      On ISS? This would be AWESOME.

      They could mount baskets on a solar panels and mark the edges of field with popcorn floating in vacuum. Then just dress-up in EVAs and go! :D
      Love it!

  2. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I used to like space back when I thought there might one day be a chance I might go there, but as that dream has died a thousand deaths I have sort of avoided it. Seeing astronauts and NASA folks being all SPACE is like seeing the hot girl you are pining after going out with that wanker from the rugby team.
    I am a deeply bitter individual.

    • Sidewinder says:

      If it’s any consolation, having it die one death isn’t much better. When I was a kid, it was “you can’t be an astronaut, you don’t know enough!” I could learn. “You can’t be an astronaut, you’re too fat!” I could lose weight. But then came the day when I passed the height limit for US space suits- and there’s not a thing you can do about ‘You can’t be an astronaut, you’re too tall’.

      One tiny spurt of growth, and I forever lost the ability to moon whole hemispheres.

  3. c4h5n2o1 says:

    So… a SPACE JAM?

  4. Danny252 says:

    Not entirely related, but this is ridiculously fun and sciencey: http://www.nowykurier.com/toys/gravity/gravity.html

    (No, I don’t know what the main website is either.)

    • JabbleWok says:

      Ooooh – gravity! Multi-body problem resolved! I see it includes accretion too.

      • Danny252 says:

        Well, “resolved” – throw in large enough masses at high velocities and you can start to spot the errors!

  5. Keith Nemitz says:

    More satellite jams are opening up. There’s still time to start one. Looking at you, UK. Get the guide from the main page.

    • JabbleWok says:

      This could be interesting. Alas, this is the first I’ve heard of it, and I suspect for most it’s a bit short notice. However, if it’s to be a regular event, it’ll likely grow in the future as awareness spreads.

  6. Lord Korax says:

    WARSPACE?

  7. zeekthegeek says:

    Bad timing for a game jam, for the kinds of games I love anyway: They’re running up against the annual 7 Day RogueLike competition which starts on the 9th.

  8. TheGroovyMule says:

    Text-to-speech is a required feature in all NASA games

  9. nimzy says:

    I’ve got dreams about bringing SS13 to voxel.js. Don’t think I could pull it off in just 72 hours though.

  10. Tssha says:

    This could launch a few careers.

    • buzzmong says:

      True, but it’ll be very much one small step on a bigger ladder rather than a giant leap.

  11. SuicideKing says:

    Would be nice if NASA partnered/sponsored a space-sim or any related space game (Star Citizen, Limit theory ME4, etc), maybe advise them on physics, offer in-game adds (like those in ME) and all of that. Or something similar.