How about Facebook games!
That’s right – NASA has launched its own games on Facebook and iOS, and you can play their Facebook game, NASA Space Race Blast Off, right here.
The game is actually a quiz game, so don’t expect to be piloting your own spaceship or fighting off aliens (NASA totally does that). Instead, you’ll be answering multiple choice questions against two other players, with each correct answer propelling your rocket closer to launch.
The quiz questions are mostly based on early high school science, so there’s nothing too difficult here. There’s a 15 second timer per question, and a bonus for answering first, so even if your opponent is Googling every question, they won’t get the advantage over someone who genuinely knows the answers.
Outside of the actual quiz, the rest of the game is less polished. Everything is functional, but many features you’d expect to find in a multiplayer game now aren’t there. Character creation gives you a few premade avatars to pick from. There’s no progression, and no real incentive to play more that once. The ‘lobby’ button is actually a ‘join random game’ button, with no ingame chat. Even the claimed single player practice mode doesn’t seem to exist.
There’s definitely potential in educational games. The problem has always been that too much focus was put on the education, and not enough on the game. NASA Space Race Blast Off is a small step for NASA games, but it’s definitely not the giant leap edu-games need to make.