Aside from Twue Wuv, there are only two things more awesome than video games: dinosaurs and NASA. Although I’m convinced that the entire organization must be filled with some of the most humble people on the planet (they landed a car on Mars with an annual budget of 0.48% of total Federal expenditure and refrained from telling ALL THE AGENCIES to suck it), I’m hoping that deep down, they’re aware of their awesomeness…and that the rest of the world is, too.
Duck Dodgers Not Invited
If it wasn’t beforehand, at least a small corner of it nearby the Ames Research Laboratory in Mountain View, California will be. Starting tonight, at 7 pm PST, NASA, in an event of epic awesomeness heretofore unknown to mankind (save possibly when Teddy Roosevelt got shot and refused medical attention until he was done speaking), is hosting a game jam. More specifically, the research lab (which is in the same town as Google, Symantec and Mozilla, I might add) is putting on the Dark Side of the Jam (which is, sadly, full) with the purpose of educating (and entertaining!) the public about the science behind exploring the universe. It’s also a part of NASA’s Night Rover challenge (an advanced energy storage competition) and the other Centennial challenges (multi-million dollar prizes designed to inspire crowd-sourced development [which, I expect, is partly due to NASA’s embarrassingly paltry budget]).
NASA’s not entirely new to the concept, as they released the free Mars Rover Landing before the actual landing occurred, but seeing them sponsor something like this gives me a little bit of hope that some of the ridiculous talent pool living around the Ames lab will drop by and make some inspiring, educational games that get people more excited about space (and more willing to loudly support exploration!) If you’re interested in tracking what’s going on this weekend, they’ll be tweeting from @darksidejam and using #darksidejam as their hashtag. Hopefully, we’ll see some cool stuff come out of the event that we’ll be able to play in the very near future.
Also, as a shameless plug, because the Sequester’s here and NASA’s getting screwed, like always: pennyfornasa.org. Also, if you’re not convinced and have some time for some light reading, check this out: The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Space Program.