Why did NASA launch a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO)?
Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive multiplayer online gaming and social virtual world, initially popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as education and training venues. There is increasing recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful "hands‾on" tools for teaching a range of complex subjects. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity – making it easier to grasp complex concepts and transfer this understanding quickly to practical problems. MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team‾building and collaboration, and adaptation to rapid change.
What are NASA's expectations for developing of a NASA MMO?
NASA expects that a NASA-based MMO will enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education efforts and, through virtual career exploration in game play, empower students to make educational choices that will take them into STEM fields of study and eventually the STEM careers needed to support NASA's Vision for Space Exploration.
What age group is the MMO game targeted towards?
The targeted audience for the MMO is students in their teens in both high school and college. Research indicates that many middle school students show a preference for games targeted at this age level and NASA expects that an MMO developed at the high school/college level with find significant adoption at the middle school level.
Does NASA plan to license the MMO to schools or players? Will the partnering entity be allowed to commercialize the application?
The final business model is still under consideration, but we currently plan for our partner to commercialize the product. However, we are open to suggestions and further debate, and certainly will give them consideration.