Your child dreams of one day becoming an astronaut. Keep this dream alive with NetworKing, a computer video game for PC and Mac developed by NASA. It isn't the first game NASA has released, as users have been playing 3D Station Spacewalk for about a year now (a role-playing game where you are an astronaut, caretaker of the International Space Station, available at NASA's website), and won't be the last.
They plan on launching an astrophysics game at some point in 2012. They are attempting to make space travel seem fun for a broader audience using the popular role-playing computer game format, sparking interest in children for a future career exploring space.
Playing the Game
Choose from various professions (scientist, technologist, engineer, or mathematician) as NASA's newest Network Manager, and work to build a network of satellites in space. The profession you choose grants you unique bonuses during game play.
Players move through objectives, starting close to Earth and working your way out into deep space, unlocking features along the way. You are working to help the astronauts in space, on missions to explore other planets, and alert them to possible meteor showers or a host of other deep space disasters.
Of course, you will need to upgrade your satellites from time to time, just as any real-life scientist would do, allowing your astronauts to travel more safely and reach further distances in space. As part of your missions, you must perform various upgrades to your satellites. The upgrades cost progressively more as the game continues, as with any other game of this kind.
When disaster strikes, it may mean it's time for some repair work. The game gives you a choice: pay for repairs or attempt to repair it yourself. Of course, if you do not fix the satellite yourself, repair costs will rise.
Choose your next move wisely, and take into account the chance of a successful repair on your own part. The game calculates this for you, based on the upgrades you currently own, and the knowledge of science you have. This knowledge of science, like your money, increases as the game goes on.
Obviously, the more scientific knowledge you possess, the higher the chances of a successful do-it-yourself repair.
Once you've completed the required missions and upgrades, which happens after acquiring the Integrated Network upgrade, the game ends, fireworks shooting off on your computer screen in celebration.
A Great Choice to Learn About Satellites
This game, through its fun and interactive format, does a great job of showcasing the inner workings of NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (ScaN) Program Network Manager. By playing this game, you feel as if you are really controlling these satellites and making important decisions as to what to do in a time of crisis. You learn about satellite networks, and even space itself.
Parents can feel good when allowing their children to play, knowing that they are learning the whole entire time. It is certainly more of an educational experience than, say, The Sims would be. All along the way, as you grow your satellite network, you see visually how they all connect together, and even get treated to views from the satellite of Earth. Its a great way to learn about networking and space travel.
This game is available for both Windows and Mac users on the NASA website, where you can choose to download the game to your machine or to simply play the game right there in your browser. You will be prompted to install a plug-in if necessary, usually the first time you play.