New NASA Online Game Snubs Macs And Other Operating Systems

NASA Takes Gamers on a Lunar Adventure With New Online Video Game

"NASA has given gamers a taste of lunar adventure with release of Moonbase Alpha, an exciting new, free online video game. - It is the first game in NASA's Learning Technologies project. The project supports the delivery of NASA content through interactive technologies such as virtual worlds, games and software applications to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education. - Moonbase Alpha is a precursor to a planned NASA-based massively, multiplayer online game project. The project is being designed to have content and missions that require players to gain and demonstrate STEM knowledge to succeed."

Survey: Apple Notebooks Favorite in College Dorms, Cultofmac

"As college students prepare to return to the classrooms, many of them are carrying an Apple laptop. An Apple MacBook is favored by 47 percent for those college students who've yet to purchase a computer and 27 percent of students who already own a laptop are fans of the Cupertino, California company. As Fortune points out, this is a complete turn-around from 2005, when 47 percent of laptop buyers chose Dell. This year, Dell is the No. 2 (24 percent) laptop brand chosen for college dorms, followed by HP with 15 percent of the college market and Toshiba with 10 percent, according to research firm Student Monitor, a New Jersey firm who has been doing these surveys for nearly a quarter century."

Keith's note: Alas, this game only works on Windows-based computers. This is rather surprising given the large (and growing) market percentage of Mac OS computers in schools and the rising popularity of iOS platforms such as iPad and iPhone, and those devices running Android OS as well as Linux, Ubuntu, etc. Sure, you can go through extra hoops to make it run on a Mac by booting your Intel-based Mac in Windows, but there is no reason why the developers cannot make it easy - instead of hard for people to run this on the computers they use. The whole idea is to enlarge the audience for what NASA does, not limit it. Alas, if you go to the game's official website there is no page or link that leads you to information about what other platforms will be supported and when. Yet if you go to their Facebook page there is a note that says "No other platforms currently planned." FAIL.

On a Facebook Discussion thread, Ryan Hayle notes: "I have submitted the following email to several contacts at NASA and Virtual Heroes demanding the immediate release of Moonbase Alpha under an Open Source License. ... It is simply not acceptable for a government agency to release a product funded by our tax dollars which requires the purchase of an expensive, proprietary operating system from a single private corporation. ... While I can understand if you do not have the resources to invest in releasing a Linux version of the product at this time, I must insist that you release all of the source code, artwork and any other associated data files for this game to the American public immediately under an Open Source license. I am confident that we will be able to port this product to function on Linux, Mac OS and other operating systems, sharing our work back with our fellow citizens in a true spirit of cooperation."

Indeed, if NASA were to do what Ryan suggests, then you might suddenly find this game being used all over the world. Isn't this what the President wants NASA to do?

Keith's update: According to Ann Marie Trotta at NASA PAO: "As mentioned in the press release, the initial release of Moonbase Alpha is a proof-of-concept endeavor. To stay within allocated resources for this trial, NASA opted to release it for the broadest online population, which uses the PC/Windows platform. The agency already is planning to expand to a broader application base for future games."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 9, 2010 1:22 PM.

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