Recently NASA published a Request for Information for developing a massively multiplayer online game. The virtual world would be aimed at students and would “simulate real Nasa engineering and science missions”. According to the RFI, “A high quality synthetic gaming environment is a vital element of Nasa’s educational cyberstructure”. “The MMO will foster career exploration opportunities in a much deeper way than reading alone would permit and at a fraction of the time and cost of an internship program.”
According to the document, games are becoming more and more important in education and could be useful for teaching a range of skills. “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,” it says.
The document calls for a game engine that includes “powerful physics capabilities” that can “support accurate in-game experimentation and research”.
NASA is already present in Second Life, mainly aimed at interaction with interested students and scientists.
The deadline was 15 January so for those who would have been interested its too late i am afraid.